Why prisons should help inmates to be good dads

Radio New Zealand has published an article on 31 Jan 2020 by Insight's reporter Teresa Cowie titled 'Why prisons should help inmates to be good dads', available here.

Excerpts from the article:

There are 9,500 men in prison [in New Zealand] and many of them have children, but how often do we think about them as fathers? Insight's reporter Teresa Cowie has been inside to find out how fatherhood could be channelled toward reducing reoffending.

The line-up of visitors in reception at Northland Regional Corrections Facility is dominated by children dressed in their smartest clothes; boys with hair neatly parted to the side and girls in summer dresses. They are heading to an event they've been looking forward to - a visit with their Dads where they will get to play, read stories and have a family photo taken together.

The session the children are going to is a fairly recent addition to the laminated schedule that hangs on the wall of the visiting room. It's called a "child-centred" visit. ...

Acting Senior Corrections Officer in the Visits and Child Protection Department, Lisa Rae, says before this type of visit started most of the dads didn't have any idea about how to talk to, or play with their children, and they would often ignore them.

Excerpts from the full Insight documentary (audio):

Linda Biggs is from the Storytime Foundation, a charity that runs the sessions along with the Department of Corrections. The Storytime Foundation tries to strengthen the bond between child and parent through books.

Linda Biggs, Storytime Foundation: "He [Pete*, a dad at Northland Regional Corrections Facility] has done our Taonga mō ngā Tamariki programme which is based around the Early Reading Together® and Reading Together® programmes, and it's all about engaging parents and their children in positive ways with literacy, and I've really seen his relationship come so far with his son over the time that I've known him."

Teresa Cowie, Radio New Zealand: "What have you noticed, what sort of changes?"

Linda Biggs: "I've noticed him be far more attentive to the child, far more natural. I watched him today actually and as he came into the room, the child just ran and flung his arms around him and was picked up and cuddled, and his dad is far more in tune with what the child needs, and is more part of the family unit rather than being a bit more on the outside that he would have been at the very beginning. You can really see the strong bonds that are there."

An excerpt from the article:

Dr Tess Bartlett, a research fellow at the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre in Melbourne, Australia: "Research shows that fathers who maintain contact with their children while in prison have more positive parenting post release, and they have better success rates in terms of employment and are less likely to commit crime."

Further Information:

* Name changed for security reasons.

Posted: Monday 3 February 2020