As mass incarceration has grown over the last several decades, more and more people want to know how children and families of the incarcerated are affected by a family member’s imprisonment.  Some of the important questions they are interested in include:

  • What kind of effect does parental incarceration have on children, whether behaviorally, academically or psychologically?
  • How does contact between incarcerated individuals and their family members affect them?
  • What are the best practices in responding to parental incarceration?

A great deal of information based on research conducted by people from a number of different disciplines is available from sources that include online publications, government reports, non-profit organizations that conduct research and academic journals that publish research studies. Nevertheless, much remains to be learned about families and incarceration and new studies appear regularly.  This section of the website seeks to broaden access to what is known from research by providing:

  • links to on-line research reports that are intended for a general audience;
  • a list of selected references by topic; and
  • periodic summaries of new studies in non-technical language.

The Published Research is in three categories: Descriptive or Demographic Studies; Explanatory or Impact Research; and Program and Policy Descriptions and Evaluations.

Seminal Studies The following studies are research that is older than 1999 that has significantly informed more recent work.

Seminal Works 

  • Bloom, B., & Steinhart, D. (1993). Why punish the children? A reappraisal of the children of incarcerated mothers in America. San Francisco: National Council on Crime and Delinquency
  • Barnhill, S. (1996). Three generations at risk: Imprisoned women, their children, and grandmother caregivers.Generations, 20, 39-41
  • Hairston, C. F. (1989). Men in prison: Family characteristics and family views. Journal of Offender Counseling, Rehabilitation, & Services, 14, 23-30
  • Hairston, C. F. (1998). The forgotten parent: Understanding the forces that influence incarcerated fathers’ relationships with their children. Child Welfare, 77(5), 617-639
  • Holt, N., & Miller, D. (1972). Explorations in inmate-family relationships (No. 46). Sacramento: California Department of Corrections.
  • Lanier, C. S. (1991). Dimensions of father-child interaction in a New York state prison population. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation,16, 27-42
  • Sack, W. H., Seidler, J., & Thomas, S. (1996). The children of imprisoned parents: A psychosocial exploration. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 46, 618-628
  • Schneller, D. P. (1975). Prisoners’ families: A study of some social and psychological

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