Psychosocial support possibilities for the families of convicts

Gediminas Navaitis


Custodial sentences may cause particular difficulties for good family relations; their maintenance may become a significant precondition for the convicts’ resocialization. That is why it is important to understand the features of the convicts’ families and the ways of psychosocial support to them.
The research on the problems of the convicts’ families may include the research of the convicts themselves as well as of their family members. The attitude of the latter towards imprisonment and the effect of such a penalty on their lifestyle have not been very widely researched. The present paper presents the analysis of the responses of women whose husbands have been sentenced by imprisonment. Two groups of women took part in the research: one group included those who maintained family relationships with their spouse; the other group included women wishing to divorce.
The research showed that there is a link between the term of the custodial sentence and the decision to divorce. It appeared a rare case for a woman to demand divorce during the first six months of the sentence if her husband had a short–term sentence. Women whose husbands are sentenced for a longer term demand divorce immediately after the sentence enters into force.
When organizing psychosocial help to the families of the prisoners the priority should be given to the support of the spouses who wish to maintain their families. 51,9 per cent of respondents admitted the wish to maintain family. As the main reasons of the divorce husband’s aggressiveness, humiliation and other negative characteristic features were mentioned. More than 90 per cent of the respondents were not satisfied with the rules at the correctional institutions that restrict their communication with the convicted husbands though only 2,6 per cent of those who intended to divorce directly blamed a correctional institution for the divorce.
The research results showed that the stability of the convicts’ families depend very much on the term of the sentence. There are more possibilities to maintain families for those who have relatively short sentences. Their families need greater psychosocial support because a big part of women hoped to maintain families after the conviction but did not succeed under the changed communication situation.

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789