When Visits Do Not Take Place: Opting Out of Visits and Discontinuing Contact

  • Peter Scharff Smith
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


As described in Chapter 10, children’s opportunities for visiting their imprisoned parents and their experience of coming to visit can have a lot to do with the visiting conditions in the prisons. But it goes without saying that the child’s relationship to the imprisoned parent or the relationships between the prisoner and other adult relatives who participate in the visit are also crucial. Regardless, there are other factors that can determine whether visits take place at all. Three important issues can be of special importance in that regard:
  1. 1.

    Imprisoned parents and/or families sometimes simply opt out of visits.

  2. 2.

    In some situations, the holder of parental custody does not want the child and the imprisoned parent to have contact.

  3. 3.

    There are situations where the child is placed in foster care, which can make visits difficult.

Any of these factors results in a discontinuation of contact, which can have lasting consequences. Imprisoned parents who opt out of visits with their children possibly think that they can “pick up where they left off” when they have served their sentences, but this is not a good solution. As described by a professor in social work: “The practical issue for fathers, however, is that parenting cannot be put on hold to be taken up ‘when I get out of prison’.


Foster Care Child Visit British Survey Prison Service Remand Prison 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 11.
    L. K. Minke, Fængslets indre liv (Copenhagen: Jurist-og Økonomforbundet, 2012), 241.Google Scholar
  2. 16.
    Gresham Sykes: The Society of Captives, New Jersey 1974.Google Scholar
  3. 34.
    J. Travis and M. Waul, Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, 2003), 8. See also Ayre, Philbrick and Reiss (2006, 10).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Scharff Smith 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Scharff Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Danish Institute for Human RightsDenmark

Personalised recommendations