Visits from family
I’ve been thinking a lot about family visits, especially now in covid times.
As a class we watched this video from the BBC
I think it’s interesting to see that actually, when someone goes to prison it’s not just them that serves the sentence, it’s also really tough on the rest of the family as well. This is easily forgotten about.
Having a parent incarcerated is included in the list of Adverse Childhood experiences, which we have found can have a massive impact on you socially, psychologically and physically as your brain begins to grow and change.
I was reading an article written for Parenting Scotland. It states:
“About 16,500 children in Scotland have a parent in prison on any given day, with just under 2,000 separated from their mother through imprisonment. More children experience a parent’s imprisonment than a parent’s divorce.”
I did not realise the large amount of young people with a parent in prison. More people experience imprisonment than divorce. The impact of young people in this experience is not spoken about, or I haven’t heard it until now even though I know of young people that grew up with a parent incarcerated.
When we went to Polmont, we had to go through a lot of security checks to even get beyond the doors of the Prison. I cannot imagine what this process is like as a child and how scary that may be. I say scary because it was scary for me as an adult. Constantly having to try to understand why you can’t see a parent when you want to and why they can’t come home with you.
Now, in a time of a pandemic, families were stopped from coming to visit their loved ones in prison. This not only leaves prisoners isolated, but also their families. Speaking to Hugh in Polmont, he said that people in prison had been given mobile phones, something he “never expected to see in his time working as a prison officer”. This means prisoners get a certain amount of credit to phone loved ones when they could not see them for over a year and a half. Breaking these face to face connections in a time of crisis feels distressing to me. I cannot fathom the pain and confusion that I would have if I wasn’t able to see my mum in that long. I cannot speak for prisoners or families of prisoners because I am not directly involved but I imagine this has felt near to impossible and I do not think a phone call is enough. It is a different experience to hear someones voice than it is to be able to look them in the eye, touch them, see them laugh. An experience we all as humans deserve an need. A phone call is a small step, but arguably its just not enough.
Vox liminis is a theatre company that works with families of people that are incarcerated. I think their work is extremely important in giving these people opportunity to be creative and process what they have been through and what their family member may go through too. These voices are important in shaping and understanding this system, arguably more than most.