Parental Incarceration and Child Wellbeing: Implications for Urban Families.

Columbia University.
Social Science Quarterly (Impact Factor: 0.99). 12/2009; 90(5):1186-1202. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00653.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: Using a population-based, longitudinal family survey (N=4,898), we identify economic, residential, and developmental risks particular to the children of incarcerated parents. METHODS: We use parental reports of incarceration history, demographic background, and a rich set of child and family outcomes, in a series of multivariate regression models. RESULTS: Children of incarcerated parents face more economic and residential instability than their counterparts. Sons of incarcerated fathers display more behavior problems, though other developmental differences are insignificant. CONCLUSIONS: We find that incarceration identifies families facing severe hardship, which cannot be explained by other observed family characteristics. Given the prevalence of incarceration, our findings suggest that a large population of children suffers unmet material needs, residential instability, and behavior problems. These risks may be best addressed by using the point of incarceration as an opportunity for intervention and the administration of age-appropriate social services.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: High rates of imprisonment among American men and women have motivated recent research on the well-being of children of incarcerated parents. Despite advances in the literature, little is known regarding the mental health status of children who experience maternal relative to paternal incarceration. Accordingly, we examine whether there are differences in mental health needs among children of incarcerated parents. Specifically, we assess whether incarcerated mothers are more likely than incarcerated fathers to report that their children suffer from mental health problems. Using cross-sectional data on children (N = 1,221) compiled from a sample of parents confined in the Arizona Department of Corrections, we find that children of incarcerated mothers are significantly more likely to be identified as suffering from mental health problems. This effect remained even after controlling for additional parent stressors and child risk factors such as exposure to violence, in utero exposure to drugs/alcohol, and parental mental illness. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.
    International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 12/2012; 58(2). DOI:10.1177/0306624X12469602 · 0.84 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: While policy makers have long extolled the benefits of incarceration, criminologists have expended considerable effort demonstrating the harmful collateral consequences of incarceration. Sampson (2011) recently challenged researchers to move beyond this dichotomy and to assess the “social ledger” of incarceration, where both the potential benefits and harms associated with incarceration are examined. To shed light on the variation in the collateral consequences of incarceration, we focus on the experiences of a valuable group of individuals directly impacted by imprisonment: those caring for children of incarcerated parents. Drawing from in-depth interviews with a diverse group of caregivers (N = 100), we examine the various consequences (both positive and negative) that occur in their lives as a result of incarceration, as well as the causal processes responsible for the outcomes we observe. Our findings reveal marked variation in the effects of incarceration on caregivers. Such effects are shaped by (1) the prisoner’s prior parental involvement, (2) the interpersonal relationship between caregiver and prisoner, and (3) the caregiver’s family support system. These findings have important implications for future work conducted on the collateral consequences of incarceration for caregivers, children, and families.
    Criminology 11/2012; 50(4):913-960. DOI:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2012.00283.x · 2.47 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: High rates of incarceration among American men, coupled with a high prevalence of fatherhood among the incarcerated, have led to millions of children and families whose fathers are, or have been, in the nation’s jails and prisons. This study uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey to estimate the extent to which paternal incarceration increases family material hardship. Analyses from a series of longitudinal regression models suggest that material hardship is statistically significantly and positively associated with paternal incarceration. These hardships are found to reflect not only a reduction in fathers’ income and financial contributions but also an increase in financial and other family strains. The findings underscore the challenges facing families with incarcerated fathers. They also emphasize the need for efforts by criminal justice agencies and social service providers to help mitigate the risks associated with paternal incarceration.
    Social Service Review 09/2011; 85(3):447-473. DOI:10.1086/661925 · 0.72 Impact Factor


Available from