'He is a new man, a proper family man’: The impact of a specialist ‘family wing’ on the quality of family relationships and paternal identity among imprisoned fathers

Anna Clancy, Mike Maguire

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    The article examines the operation and impact of a specialist wing in a male prison, which aims to repair and enhance family relationships. It outlines the damaging effects of parental imprisonment on children and on paternal identity, and explores whether, and how, residence on the wing and prisoners’ joint participation with children and families in extended visits and family-focused activities and interventions, mitigate such damage. The findings are overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating improvements in well-being among children and family members, enhanced family relationships, and a stronger sense of paternal identity among prisoners. It is argued that these activities set in motion processes akin to those postulated by Burke (1991) as necessary for maintenance and renewal of identity: namely, the ‘verification’ of ‘identity standards’ through ‘reflective appraisal’ by key referent groups (here, families and children). There is also evidence that positive changes in prisoners quite frequently persist after release.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-121
    Number of pages21
    JournalHoward Journal of Criminal Justice
    Volume60
    Issue number1
    Early online date16 Oct 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2021

    Keywords

    • Prisons
    • family wing
    • prisoners’ families
    • parental imprisonment
    • paternal identity

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