Belgium: a parent in prison

Every year, 20,000 children see one or both of their parents imprisoned. How can their family bond be preserved?

Incarceration pulls families apart. It cuts children off from their parents—in 95% of cases, from the father. A child is legally entitled to family life, even if one of their parents is incarcerated. The Relais Enfants-Parents (REP) works to ensure this right and maintain family ties, operating independently to supervise group and individual visits in prison.

Maurice Jansen is the director of the association’s French-speaking branch. He organises efforts in about ten prisons. Prison Insider reached out to him with three questions.

The REP has developed the "tri-lieu" as a place of calm, fostering a family atmosphere that is nonreminiscent of a prison milieu.

The prison environment and its inherent rules don’t allow for normal relationships. On the other hand, it is possible to allow family ties to be maintained.

We organise discussion groups where they can share their concerns, their desires, and their condition as mothers and prisoners.