Families, Imprisonment and Legitimacy

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This book examines what it means to be a family within the restrictive, disruptive, and often distressing context of imprisonment. Drawing on original qualitative data, it looks beyond traditional models of the family to examine the question of which relationships matter to individuals affected by imprisonment, and demonstrates how family relationships are actively constructed and maintained through family "practices" and "displays" such as visits, shared experiences and continuing family memories and traditions. It sheds new light not only on the true extent of who is impacted by the imposition of a prison sentence, but also the barriers to family life that these individuals encounter throughout its duration.

This book also contributes to our understanding of wider issues such as poverty and social marginalisation, the role of family relationships on desistance from crime, and legitimacy. It argues that the act of supporting an individual in custody can bring families into regular contact with the criminal justice system in ways that can be both distressing and problematic, and therefore contends that the prison system should minimise the damage caused by imprisonment not only to family relationships, but also to the perceived legitimacy of the criminal justice system.

Generating new conceptual insights into the harms of imprisonment and how perceptions of legitimacy and fairness are shaped by the criminal justice system, this book will be of much interest to students of criminology and sociology engaged in studies of criminal justice, prisons, gender, social work, and punishment. It will also be of interest to policy makers, penal-reformers, and activists.

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