The project looks at children who accompany their parent to prison and the impacts of such practice on these children and their parents. As in many other countries, Finland lets young children accompany their parent to prison under certain conditions. In a number of forums, including the United Nations, the issues of children's rights in prisons have recently been addressed. However, the theme has been neglected by research.
The key questions in this project are the following (with the emphasis being on the last two ones):
1. How and why were the child-mother (parent) units established in the Finnish prison system and how and why have they existed throughout the last century until the present? (socio-historical analysis.
2. What kind of position do the children have in the formal organisations of the justice and social welfare system when in prison? Who in fact looks after the rights of the child and how is it done? (organisational analysis)
3. In what kinds of conditions do children accompany their parent to prison nowadays? What are the other options for the child? What happens during the prison period? Where do the children go from prison? What are the relations between the child and his/her parent like before, during and after the prison period? (individual analysis of the children's situations in relation with the parent's situation)
The project attempts to utilize theoretical influences of different kinds as the approach is explorative due to the lack of earlier studies. These main theoretical debates deal with family and organizational studies from the point of view of social problems work as well as childhood studies.
The main empirical part of the project consists of interviews with parents with a child/children in prison, prison staff and other authorities involved during 2006-2007. The focus in those interviews with parents will be on the process of the child entering the prison, the time in prison and the plans after the release of the parent. The interviews with prison staff (individual/group interviews) attempt to document and analyse their experiences about children in prison. The project aims to compare its findings with the Swedish study carried out by Karin Röbäck, University of Gothenburg.
The project is funded by the Parliamentary State Auditors, Ministry of Justice and the Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology and it is carried out by researcher Rosi Enroos and researcher in charge, Tarja Pösö at the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Tampere, Finland.