GPFRG is directed in Oxford by Rachel Condry and Shona Minson. It originated when a small group of scholars whose work centred on the families of prisoners, were brought together for a two day symposium in Oxford in 2016. From that symposium the book 'Prisons, Punishment and the Family: Towards a new sociology of punishment' (OUP) was produced in 2018. Since then the group has developed a network which includes more than 40 scholars worldwide active in prisoners' families research, it and seeks to work towards the production, exchange and dissemination of research.
In this burgeoning field much work has focused on the UK, United States, Australia and Europe and the network intentionally seeks to raise the profile of research taking place in the Global South.