Prisons and Families: What Happens When a Family Member Is Incarcerated?

November 3, 2015
Hosted by Virginia L. Colin, Ph.D.

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Episode Description

Most people have no idea what happens to the rest of the family when one of its members goes to prison. Having been “in the trenches” doing research with women in that situation, Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson describes the way they often feel grief as if someone died but cannot get closure. The whole family may be symbolically imprisoned, feeling as though they, too, are serving a prison sentence while their loved one serves time. Challenges may include a sense of shame, social stigma, financial strains, lack of social support, and altered family dynamics. The affected individuals often remain in a loop of helplessness, hopelessness, and sadness. Dr. Hart-Johnson discusses these adverse effects on the family. After the loved one’s prison sentence has been served, family reunification is not always easy. There may be new crisis points to overcome. What could improve the situation along the continuum of mass incarceration? That is also a topic of discussion.

Family Matters

Family Matters

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Virginia L. Colin, Ph.D.

Virginia L. Colin, Ph.D.

Virginia L. Colin, Ph.D is an author, speaker, professional family mediator, Director of Colin Family Mediation Group, and a Founding Member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM).

Having survived a nightmarish divorce, Dr. Colin actively supports divorce reform efforts, teaching people how to take a lot of the pain, financial cost, acrimony, and trauma out of divorce. She also loves learning and teaching about building healthy relationships and solving family problems long before anyone has a reason to consider divorce. She has been a foster parent, a married parent, a divorced single parent, and a remarried stepparent.

Formerly a research psychologist studying attachment and other aspects of human development, Dr. Colin has been providing family mediation services since 1999. She specializes in helping couples and ex-couples develop co-parenting plans and financial agreements that support their children’s security, self-confidence, and healthy development as well as their own adult well-being.

Dr. Colin has published two books, “Human Attachment" and "The Guide to Low-Cost Divorce in Virginia: How to Do It Yourself.” She has also written a variety of articles published in journals and on the Internet.

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