06 Sep, 2022
Considering the Best Interests of the Child in Sentencing and Other Decisions Concerning Parents Facing Criminal Sanctions – The Role of Civil Society Organizations
The International Center for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR), in partnership with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver, has secured funding from the Vancouver Foundation for a three-year system-change project. The primary objective of the project is to mitigate the negative impact of parental incarceration on children, including through the promotion of community-based alternatives wherever appropriate. This system-change project aims to instigate and support a systemic and cultural change in the way that the best interests of the child is considered by defense counsel, prosecutors and the criminal courts, when making decisions about offenders with child caring responsibilities. The project also recognizes that many stakeholders, inside and outside of the justice system, have a responsibility to mitigate the negative impact on children of parents facing criminal sanctions.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) also have an important role to play in providing a protective environment for children with incarcerated parents (CIP). Vivienne Chin’s recent presentation at the launch of the E-course on Children of Incarcerated Parents hosted by Plataforma NNAPES and the Inter-American Children’s Institute identified several areas where CSOs help transform the way we support these children.
- The holistic nature of CSO work
- Awareness raising and community mobilization
- Networking and funding
- Advocacy for change
- Holding government accountable
- Knowledge and capacity building
There is an important role for CSOs in providing specialized training for justice officials and other front line workers on how to improve the situation of CIP. There is also a vital role for CSOs to help prosecutors and judges understand the impact of incarceration on the children of offenders, and providing infrastructure and means to implement alternatives to imprisonment, through community supervision, restorative justice, and traditional or alternative justice systems.
 Chin, V. (2022). Providing a Protective Environment for Children with Incarcerated Parents: The Role of Civil Society. Vancouver, ICCLR. https://icclr.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/E-course-launch-6Sept2022_notes-on-presentation.pdf?x40295
Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash.