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Not my Crime, Still my Sentence

Not my Crime, Still my Sentence


Opened on May 09, 2012

Dear Ms. Roberta Angelilli, One out of every 100 children in the EU has a parent in prison[1]. That’s a lot of children, and they need our support.  Children with imprisoned parents are frequently stigmatized by their peers, communities and untrained prison-staff when visiting their parents in prison. Throughout the entire sentence of their parents, these children serve their own sentence of shame and humiliation by association. This is compounded by the greater risk of discrimination, social exclusion, increased poverty and breakdown of family ties to which they are exposed. To many outsiders, a child with a parent in prison is associated with the parent’s crime.  The punishment for the crime in this situation is often transferred to the child, as they suffer in silence at school and at home, or during time spent waiting in prison visiting centres.   

Children’s rights to family life are recognized by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and other international treaties, yet the implementation and execution of these rights in Europe is not keeping pace. Without support, many affected children have demonstrated radically poorer outcomes on well-being indicators. Yet few European countries give statutory obligation on prison authorities or relevant bodies to provide special services to children of prisoners, and the effects of parental incarceration on children are not taken into account. Sometimes very simple changes in prison policy could make a parent’s sentence less traumatic and punitive for a child. 

Yet there is hope: In autumn 2011, a United Nations Day of General Discussion on Children of Prisoners was held, raising awareness on their unique set of circumstances among the international community and promoting a series of recommendations on protecting their best interests and implementing their rights.  Similar initiatives are needed on the European level, spearheaded by key champions within EU institutions. 

I write to you, Ms. Angelilli, because of your role as head of the European Parliament’s Alliance for Children and member of the Intergroup on Family and Child’s Rights.  I am aware that this Alliance stands for the rights of all children throughout the various actions and decisions of the Parliament, and I feel that this particular group of children needs attention to ensure that their rights are continuously upheld, respected and implemented.  

I would like to support children with imprisoned parents by asking you and your peers to take on their cause. Please help me by letting them know that they are not invisible to the European community and that we will not leave them behind.I am signing, therefore, this Eurochips petition recommending the following reforms:

    •  - Improved prison visits conditions for children, including more visiting hours to ensure regular, direct contact with a parent in prison, and awareness-raising and training for prison staff.
    •  - The creation of national monitoring groups to obtain more information on this group of children and to help maintain quality visits 

I, along with my fellow signatories, urge you to do everything in your power to help these children through these difficult times in their lives.  

Please, help us help them.

Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely, 

Citizen Standing for the Rights of Children with Imprisoned Parents 

[1] Source: Eurochips