Globally millions of children have a parent who is imprisoned. Research suggests that this has an adverse impact on the child and imprisonment of a parent is considered to be an…
Globally millions of children have a parent who is imprisoned. Research suggests that this has an adverse impact on the child and imprisonment of a parent is considered to be an adverse childhood experience (ACE). Parental incarceration will not only affect the child but the entire household and may result in further ACEs such as household dysfunction and parental separation making this group of children particularly vulnerable. This scoping review aims to adopt an international perspective to comprehensively examine the extent range and nature of literature both published and grey relating to parental incarceration and the potential impact on children’s emotional and mental health.
In this scoping review, the five stages identified by Arksey and O’Malley (2005) were used including identifying the research question, identifying relevant studies, study selection, charting data, collating, summarising and reporting results. In addition, the included studies were appraised for quality using methodology-specific tools. A critical narrative synthesis was adopted to present findings and discussion.
Nine studies met the inclusion criteria. Of the included studies, eight were retrieved from peer-reviewed journals and one from grey literature searching. Five categories with subcategories were identified affecting children’s mental health: 1) Relationships: parent and incarcerated child relationship; facilitators and barriers to maintaining contact; 2) Family structure; maternal or paternal incarceration; living arrangements during parental incarceration; 3) Children’s emotions: emotional recognition and regulation; resilience; 4) Prison stigma: social stigma; shame and secrecy; 5) Structural disadvantages: poverty; race/ethnicity.
This scoping review has highlighted how the imprisonment of a parent negatively affects their children’s emotional and mental health. Factors negatively impacting children’s emotional and mental health are interrelated and complex. Further research is required, including differences between paternal and maternal incarceration; impact of gender and age of child; poverty as an ACE and prison exacerbating this; and effects of ethnicity and race. An important policy direction is in developing an effective way of capturing the parental status of a prisoner to ensure that the child and family receive needed support.
For contemporary American young adults (aged 18–29), coresidence with parents is now the most common living arrangement. Recent research on residential transitions out of and back…
For contemporary American young adults (aged 18–29), coresidence with parents is now the most common living arrangement. Recent research on residential transitions out of and back into the parental home shows that residential independence is still common, meaning that many young adults coreside with parents after first leaving the nest. The timing of residential independence and subsequent coresidence is often tied to other life-course outcomes, such as relationships and employment, as well as characteristics of the family context, such as family structure and financial resources. A small body of research also demonstrates that residential transitions are common following criminal justice contact experiences such as arrests and periods of incarceration. While this association does not appear to be explained by the family context, the current study argues there are several reasons to anticipate heterogeneity in coresidence patterns based on the childhood family context. Drawing on data from the 1997 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I find that criminal justice contact is associated with coresidence with parents during young adulthood in a fairly consistent manner across different dimensions of family context (although parental education may play a role). These findings demonstrate the power of the criminal justice system in directing or redirecting residential trajectories and have implications for both individuals with contact and their families.
We descriptively examined measures of family structure, socioeconomic disadvantage, and exposure to crime, violence, and substance use in young adulthood and childhood for those…
We descriptively examined measures of family structure, socioeconomic disadvantage, and exposure to crime, violence, and substance use in young adulthood and childhood for those who experienced maternal incarceration as children.
We used data from waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We compared these individuals to two groups: those who did not experience maternal incarceration and those who experienced paternal incarceration. We generated weighted means and conducted F-tests using bivariate regressions to determine where these groups significantly differed.
We found that individuals whose mothers were incarcerated during their childhoods experienced greater hardships in both childhood and young adulthood than those whose mothers were not incarcerated. Individuals who experienced maternal incarceration reported similar levels of socioeconomic disadvantage and exposure to crime and violence as those who experienced paternal incarceration. One notable exception was family structure, where maternal incarceration was associated with significantly fewer respondents reporting living with their mother or either biological parent.
With the exception of family structure, the childhood and transition to adulthood were comparable for individuals experiencing any form of parental incarceration. These children were significantly more disadvantaged and exposed to more risk factors than those whose parents were never incarcerated. Additional support and resources are necessary for families who have incarcerated parents, with special outreach made to families without a biological mother in the household.
Originality/Value of Paper
There has been no overarching, descriptive study comparing child and young adult outcomes of those with an incarcerated mother using a nationally representative, longitudinal dataset in the United States.
The rapid growth of mass incarceration in the United States means that a historically unprecedented number of children are exposed to paternal incarceration. Despite a growing…
The rapid growth of mass incarceration in the United States means that a historically unprecedented number of children are exposed to paternal incarceration. Despite a growing literature investigating the intergenerational consequences of incarceration, little research collects information from the children who experience paternal incarceration. In this chapter, we describe an ongoing data collection effort, the Jail & Family Life Study, a longitudinal in-depth interview study designed to understand the consequences of paternal incarceration for families and children. Part of this study involves conducting in-depth interviews with 8- to 17-year-old children of incarcerated fathers during and after the father’s incarceration. First, we document the challenges and strategies to gaining access to children of incarcerated fathers, paying particular attention to the role of children’s mothers and caregivers in facilitating this access. Second, we document the challenges and strategies to developing rapport with this group of vulnerable children. Third, we describe the opportunities that children can provide for researchers. Taken together, these findings suggest that it is both challenging and imperative to incorporate children into research on the collateral consequences of incarceration.
This review integrates and builds linkages among existing theoretical and empirical literature from across disciplines to further broaden our understanding of the relationship…
This review integrates and builds linkages among existing theoretical and empirical literature from across disciplines to further broaden our understanding of the relationship between inequality, imprisonment, and health for black men. The review examines the health impact of prisons through an ecological theoretical perspective to understand how factors at multiple levels of the social ecology interact with prisons to potentially contribute to deleterious health effects and the exacerbation of race/ethnic health disparities.
This review finds that there are documented health disparities between inmates and non-inmates, but the casual mechanisms explaining this relationship are not well-understood. Prisons may interact with other societal systems – such as the family (microsystem), education, and healthcare systems (meso/exosystems), and systems of racial oppression (macrosystem) – to influence individual and population health.
The review also finds that research needs to move the discussion of the race effects in health and crime/justice disparities beyond the mere documentation of such differences toward a better understanding of their causes and effects at the level of individuals, communities, and other social ecologies.
Research suggests social exclusion is linked to violence. To expand what is known about risk factors for violence, this study investigates links between having a parent with a…
Research suggests social exclusion is linked to violence. To expand what is known about risk factors for violence, this study investigates links between having a parent with a history of incarceration and experiencing social exclusion. Data from waves 1 and 4 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used to conduct regression analyses to assess associations between parental incarceration and social exclusion adjusting for child, parent, and family factors. Results indicate that compared to individuals whose parents had never been incarcerated, those who reported a parent had been incarcerated were at greater risk of experiencing material exclusion, incarceration, and multiple forms of exclusion. When assessing differences by parent gender, results indicate that those who reported their mother had been incarcerated compared to those who reported their father had been incarcerated had higher risk of being incarcerated themselves and experiencing multiple forms of exclusion. Since research suggests social exclusion increases violence risk, studies are needed (1) to identify mechanisms linking parental incarceration to offspring social exclusion and (2) to increase understanding around differential impact by parent gender. Such studies can inform development of interventions to promote better outcomes in this vulnerable sub-population of children.
Despite the burgeoning research on mass incarceration, women are rarely its focus. Racialised women, whose rates of incarceration have increased more rapidly than other groups…
Despite the burgeoning research on mass incarceration, women are rarely its focus. Racialised women, whose rates of incarceration have increased more rapidly than other groups, are at the best marginal within much of this literature. Within juvenile justice systems, racialised girls and young women are also disproportionately criminalised and remain markedly over-represented but are often overlooked. The absence of racialised women and girls from dominant accounts of punishment and incarceration is a matter of epistemological, ethical and political concern. Intersectionality offers one means to treat racialised women and girls as focal points for research and advocacy directed towards a reduction in criminalisation and incarceration. While intersectionality does not determine how the knowledge produced is deployed, recognising those who have been unrecognised is a necessary first step in striving to bring about positive change through praxis. Flawed mainstream accounts are unlikely to generate strategies that are well-aligned with the needs and interests of those who remain largely invisible.
Past studies of the empirical relationship between immigration and crime during the first major wave of immigration have focused on violent crime in cities and have relied on data…
Past studies of the empirical relationship between immigration and crime during the first major wave of immigration have focused on violent crime in cities and have relied on data with serious limitations regarding nativity information. We analyze administrative data from Pennsylvania prisons, with high-quality information on nativity and demographic characteristics. The latter allow us to construct incarceration rates for detailed population groups using U.S. Census data. The raw gap in incarceration rates for the foreign and native born is large, in accord with the extremely high concern at the time about immigrant criminality. But adjusting for age and gender greatly narrows that observed gap. Particularly striking are the urban/rural differences. Immigrants were concentrated in large cities where reported crime rates were higher. However, within rural counties, the foreign born had much higher incarceration rates than the native born. The interaction of nativity with urban residence explains much of the observed aggregate differentials in incarceration rates. Finally, we find that the foreign born, especially the Irish, consistently have higher incarceration rates for violent crimes, but from 1850 to 1860 the natives largely closed the gap with the foreign born for property offenses.
This chapter illuminates the central role of kin networks and the routines they construct to maintain family ties and support young fathers in jail. Recent research demonstrates…
This chapter illuminates the central role of kin networks and the routines they construct to maintain family ties and support young fathers in jail. Recent research demonstrates variation in incarcerated fathers’ contact with children. There is less focus on variation in contact with extended kin networks and how kin networks contribute to father–child contact during an incarceration period. Forty-three incarcerated young fathers (ages 19–26) in three Southern California jails, 79% of whom self-identified as Latino, were interviewed to explore fathers’ descriptions of family contact during jail. Incarcerated young fathers rely on kin networks to coordinate routines for contact during jail, including father–child contact. Father inclusion in family life during jail depends not only on the mother of the child but – perhaps integrally – extended paternal kin. Available paternal kin can facilitate connectedness between children and incarcerated fathers in family contexts of complicated parental circumstances (e.g., parental relationship dissolution). Family members mitigate family challenges to maintain ties despite carceral policies meant to isolate fathers from families and children. A continued focus on kin networks and their role in maintaining family connectedness is crucial to understanding and reducing the collateral consequences to family members and incarcerated persons following release from jail.
Research about the prevalence of dementia among older adults in the incarceration system is currently lacking, and further investigation is warranted. Considering the high level…
Research about the prevalence of dementia among older adults in the incarceration system is currently lacking, and further investigation is warranted. Considering the high level of healthcare needs, unique behavioural issues and difficulty to rehabilitate within the system due to its punitive approach and lack of effective rehabilitation programs, further investigation is warranted to characterize and determine the number of incarcerated older adults with dementia. The purpose of this study is to estimate the prevalence of individuals with dementia in the prison system while also describing the incarceration, demographic and offence-related characteristics of this unique population.
South Carolina (SC) Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Registry (1992–2016) and South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) data (Fiscal years 1992–2019) were cross-referenced. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) cases in the corrections system was calculated using South Carolina Alzheimer's Disease (SC AD) SC ADRD Registry and SCDC data. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were calculated to determine strength and direction of relationships between year of incarceration and frequency of ADRD cases both prior to and after incarcerations, respectively. Significant differences by age group, race, gender and dementia type were determined using a two-tailed pooled t-test and Bonferroni approach where appropriate. Count data for types of crimes committed are also presented.
The linkage showed that there were 2,171 individuals within the SC AD Registry who have been in the corrections system, about 1% of those in the Registry. Of these individuals, 1,930 cases were diagnosed with ADRD after incarceration and 241 prior to incarceration. In 2016, 317 individuals with ADRD were incarcerated. For ages 55 and above in South Carolina, the prevalence of ADRD is 6.7% in the general, non-incarcerated population compared to 14.4% in the incarcerated population. Additional results showed that those diagnosed with ADRD between 55 and 65 years of age had a significantly lower mean age at first incarceration (34.6 years of age) than those diagnosed between 66 and 74 years of age (55.9 years of age), indicating that those incarcerated earlier in life had an earlier dementia diagnosis. Additionally, African Americans had a significantly lower mean age at first incarceration (43.4 years of age) than Whites (46.2 years of age) and females had significantly lower mean age at first incarceration (42.9 years of age) than males (45 years of age). When investigating trends, results showed a significant positive linear association between year and frequency of ADRD diagnoses (p-value < 0.05) for those with ADRD diagnosis prior to incarceration and a significant decreasing linear association (p-value < 0.0001) in the number of individuals with an ADRD diagnosis after corrections. Findings also showed that a large percentage of older adults with ADRD in prison did not commit a violence offence.
This study links a population-based Alzheimer’s disease registry and state-wide corrections data to estimate the prevalence of individuals with dementia in the prison system. This linkage presents an opportunity to fill in significant gaps and contribute to the body of literature on dementia among people in prison in the USA.