Paying the price

The cost to families of imprisonment and release

Families Outside

March 2023

The families of people held in prison overwhelmingly live on very low incomes. Families Outside found the burden of care and costs associated with supporting someone in prison in Scotland falls disproportionately on women, with many spending half their income or more in costs relating to their family member’s imprisonment. The research found the impact of additional costs and loss of income means that families are often pushed into extreme food and fuel poverty. To keep families together and maintain contact, costs can include travel, staying in touch, postage, and paying money into personal accounts.

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October 2022

Families Outside examined in this publication the role of imprisonment in creating, sustaining and deepening poverty, and its impact on families.

The research found that about five and a half million people live in Scotland with just over 7,400 people in prison, 96% of whom are male (Scottish Prison Service, 2022). Families affected by prison reported a reduction in social activities and an increase in isolation, with some likening this to ‘permanent lockdown’. Around a fifth of parents reported that they could no longer afford to pay for their children to attend clubs and activities, highlighting the generational disadvantages created by imprisonment.

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