In this paper, we explore how townships and prison are linked in South Africa among criminalised populations. While the two are often described – also by residents – as belonging to radically different moral worlds, the article shows how they are entangled in often awkward and difficult, yet necessary ways. We show this by paying acute attention to kinship structures and how kin are disavowed, allowed and sometimes denied as residents find their way to prison and out again. The empirical basis of the article is long-term fieldwork in and engagement with Cape Town’s townships and their residents, many of who have experiences with prison as (former) inmates, as family to inmates, or through constant circulation of prison stories.