Purpose – The aims of this paper are to determine the state of visiting for women in the English prison system and to explore the relationship between women's mental health and visits in prison. Design/methodology/approach – For the purpose of this paper the authors conducted a review of the literature. All literature published from 1983 onwards was included to coincide with the introduction of Pat Carlen's (1983) campaigning group Women in Prison (WIP). The review focused on all literature from England and Wales to reflect the National Criminal Justice System and used an inclusion criteria to achieve this. Findings – The review revealed key themes including visit rejection, the importance of visits for maintaining identity and the contradicting emotions that women in prison experience when visited. Originality/value – Social relationships and family ties are protective factors for prisoners' mental wellbeing, yet the number and frequency of visits to offenders in custody has declined. The potential role for prison visiting schemes to improve the mental wellbeing of women in custody is explored, including the implications for the education and training of staff and visitors involved in the visiting process.
The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 30, 2012
Keywords: Women; Prisons; Wellbeing; Visits; Mental health services; Quality of life; United Kingdom; Personal health
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