This concluding chapter will argue that the costs of custodial penalties for families are numerous and severe. Imprisonment disrupts the everyday practices and activities that constitute family life, and attempts to maintain these relationships require a considerable investment of scarce family resources, which serves to reinforce gendered patterns of social disadvantage. Further, imprisonment not only damages relationships within the family, but also serves to undermine the perceived legitimacy of the criminal justice system amongst some of Scotland’s poorest communities. Thus, these costs must be understood as operating at a societal level, not only making it more difficult for individual families to escape poverty, but also reconfiguring the civic relationships between poor communities and the state.

More encouragingly, applying a conceptual lens of legitimacy to the experiences of families affected by imprisonment also generates insights as to how legitimacy might be promoted and supported, which will be discussed here. However, it will be suggested that the limitations of these strategies must also be recognised, as they do little to address the material poverty experienced by families. Thus, the most productive strategy for promoting legitimacy will be a fundamental reconsideration of the way and extent to which we use imprisonment in Scotland.