When someone is deprived of his or her liberty, family connections often take on a heightened importance. Family members can play a vital emotional and material support role to detainees in difficult times. Contact with family whilst in detention represents a link between the detainee and the outside world and can often serve as a safeguard. The family will keep track of where their loved ones are detained and look out for their general rights, interests and wellbeing.
Family visits are a right and not a privilege, and upholding the right to family is more than just about allowing the act of visits to occur. There are many elements that must be considered – for example, material conditions for visits, and consideration for detainees with particular needs or in a situation of vulnerability.
The majority of those in detention will at some stage be released into the community. If the bonds between detainees and their families can be sustained throughout incarceration, the chances of successful reintegration into society are much greater.