Bureau of Prisons changes policies for prisoners with children

The federal Bureau of Prisons announced new policies Tuesday aimed at helping inmates visit with their children and other family members.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the bureau’s plans to expand the pilot program that provides video services for visitation to all facilities for women by June. The agency is planning to then develop an implementation plan to expand the video services program to all of its facilities.

The agency said it’s also working with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on a pilot program that will allow incarcerated parents to take part in positive youth development activities with their children. The programs — funded by a $1.3 million grant — are expected to begin at four facilities in Connecticut, New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania in June.

The bureau said it’s drafting guidance to train prison staff on how best to interact with children when they’re visiting their parents in prison, as well as a guidebook to help incarcerated parents who have children in foster care better understand how the child welfare system works.

Tip sheets will also be created to help prisoners prepare for a visit with their child, help officers support positive interactions during visits, and help mentors better support children of incarcerated parents.

“Assisting inmates in maintaining family relationships while they are in prison is not only good for the individuals returning from prison and their families, it’s good for the community as well, because when a person has a strong support system when they are released, they are less likely to re-offend,” Yates said in a statement. 

“Doing everything we can to equip inmates to be successful when they leave prison, including assisting them in maintaining family relationships, is one of the most important things we can do for the safety of our communities.”


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