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Management of Prisoners' Children in the Russian Federation

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 53 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2014 Pages: 237-254
Judith Pallot; Elena Katz
Date Published
July 2014
18 pages
This study examined the patterns of contact between minors and their incarcerated parents in the Russian Federation in 2007-2011 in the context of prison policies intended to support the parent-child relationship.
The documentation presented in this study shows that the current practice in Russian remand prisons and correctional colonies fails to comply with international conventions on the protection of children's rights. The distances between the facilities where the prisoners are housed and the communities where their families live and the prisoners resided prior to incarceration impede frequent and regular contact between incarcerated parents and their children. In Russia, there is no automatic deprivation of parental rights due to incarceration, but the obstacles to restoring any relationship between the incarcerated parent and a child are often insurmountable. Russia has made far less progress than the United States and other Western countries in developing family-oriented programs in prisons. A father's parental role is devalued, and an incarcerated mother is viewed as an unfit parent. This reinforces practices that separate children and imprisoned parents. The Russian public apparently feels powerless to challenge the state's penal policies and traditions. There is virtually no advocacy by non-governmental organizations regarding the parental rights and needs of incarcerated mothers and fathers and their children. A change in social attitudes toward the importance of prisoners' family ties is a long-term project in the Russian Federation. It could be facilitated by a resolve by the prison service to encourage more contact between children and their incarcerated parents. A step in the right direction was an experiment in 2000-01 to provide joint accommodation for incarcerated mothers and their babies in two prison colonies during the first 18 months after birth. 1 table, 11 notes, and 29 references