Reducing Barriers to Family Connections While Parents are in Prison or Jail

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), in collaboration with the Urban Institute and Community Works West, have developed a set of model practices to facilitate parent-child communication and contact during parental incarceration. The objective of this document is to detail a set of practices that correctional administrators can implement to remove barriers that inhibit children from cultivating or maintaining relationships with their incarcerated parents during and immediately after incarceration. These practices also involve children’s co-parents and caregivers. To accomplish this objective, it is suggested that correctional administrators (1) consider that children need and want to have a relationship with their incarcerated parents and vice versa; (2) allow incarcerated parents to take responsibility for their children; and (3) provide opportunities for families to communicate, interact, and bond. By implementing the practices outlined in this document, it is thought that administrators will reduce the stress and confusion children experience when their parent is incarcerated while sustaining or maximizing safety and security in the facility.

Model Practices for Parents in Prisons and Jails