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Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2022) | Viewed by 37897

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Salamanca, 37005 Salamanca, Spain
Interests: interpersonal and sexual relationships; socially vulnerable groups; prison inmates; parental incarceration; health; quality of life
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Guest Editor
School of Health and Human Sciences, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, USA
Interests: loneliness; personal relationships; sexuality

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Guest Editor
Human Development & Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Interests: health and social; emotional; cognitive development of high-risk infants and young children and their families, including children with incarcerated parents

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Guest Editor
Department of Education, University of Cantabria, Santander, Spain
Interests: social; emotional; sexual needs in socially vulnerable populations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Incarceration has important effects not only on the individual but also on a family level. The relationship between incarcerated parents and their children is inevitably affected. On the one hand, the imprisoned parent has to make a series of decisions about the way in which they want to be a parent from prison or jail and how to carry out their parental role in a satisfactory manner. On the other hand, minors affected by parental imprisonment also suffer the consequences of these circumstances. Children with an incarcerated parent have shown lower levels of physical and psychological health and higher levels of social stigmatization, school and behavioral problems, as well as risky and criminal behavior, among others. To protect their wellbeing, the relationship of the children with five fundamental elements is of special importance: (1) the parent in prison or jail, (2) the prison or jail context and the different types of communications, (3) the main caregiver who is out of prison or jail, whose levels of parental stress are significantly increased, (4) their group of peers, (5) and the school. At last, parents’ (and also non-parents’) romantic and sexual life can also be affected by prison due to the difficulties in keeping in contact and the visits’ conditions in which this contact occurs.

Thus, it is clear that the incarceration of a family member challenges the family as a whole. This Special Issue offers an opportunity to publish high-quality interdisciplinary research (quantitative and qualitative), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, and evidence-based interventions. All these types of articles should be focused on the different challenges that families affected by incarceration face at different levels: children’s wellbeing, parental satisfaction and stress of both the prison inmate and main caregiver outside the prison, and romantic and sexual life. Studies which address the effects of family processes on prison inmates’ intentions of ceasing criminal behavior and/or their record of criminal recidivism are also welcomed.

Dr. Rodrigo J. Carcedo
Prof. Dr. Daniel Perlman
Dr. Julie Poehlmann-Tynan
Dr. Noelia Fernández-Rouco
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • parental incarceration
  • family
  • children
  • health
  • wellbeing
  • prison
  • jail

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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13 pages, 307 KiB  
Article
A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Parent Management Training Program for Incarcerated Parents: Post-Release Outcomes
by J. Mark Eddy, Charles R. Martinez, Jr., Bert O. Burraston, Danita Herrera and Rex M. Newton
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(8), 4605; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084605 - 11 Apr 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2344
Abstract
The majority of incarcerated adults are parents. While in prison, most parents maintain at least some contact with their families. A positive connection with family during imprisonment is hypothesized to improve long-term success after release. One way in which departments of corrections attempt [...] Read more.
The majority of incarcerated adults are parents. While in prison, most parents maintain at least some contact with their families. A positive connection with family during imprisonment is hypothesized to improve long-term success after release. One way in which departments of corrections attempt to facilitate positive connections with family is through prison-based parenting programs. One such program, developed in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Corrections, is the cognitive-behavioral parent management training program Parenting Inside Out (PIO). Outcomes due to PIO were examined within the context of a randomized controlled trial. Incarcerated parents from all correctional facilities in the state of Oregon were recruited to participate, and eligible parents who consented (N = 359) were transferred to participating releasing institutions. After initial assessment, parents were randomized to condition (i.e., PIO “intervention” condition or services-as-usual “control” condition) and then followed through the remainder of their prison sentences and to one year after release. Intervention condition participants were offered PIO prior to their release. Outcomes favoring participants in the intervention condition were found in areas of importance to parents and their children and families and to public health and safety at large, including a decreased likelihood of problems related to substance use and of engaging in criminal behavior during the first six months following release as well as a decreased likelihood of being arrested by police during the first year following release. The implications of the findings are discussed, including the critical need for scientifically rigorous research on multi-component parenting programs delivered during the reentry period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
24 pages, 4178 KiB  
Article
“When She Says Daddy”: Black Fathers’ Recidivism following Reentry from Jail
by Alvin Thomas, Jennifer Clare Wirth, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan and David J. Pate, Jr.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(6), 3518; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063518 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3249
Abstract
We report on the findings of a mixed methods longitudinal study of 84 African American fathers of young children who were enrolled into the study during the father’s jail stay. Participants were assessed using interviews, self-report measures, and administrative records on frequency of [...] Read more.
We report on the findings of a mixed methods longitudinal study of 84 African American fathers of young children who were enrolled into the study during the father’s jail stay. Participants were assessed using interviews, self-report measures, and administrative records on frequency of father–child contact, father–caregiver relationship quality, family support, paternal pre-incarceration employment, fathers’ plans to live with the child upon reentry, history of substance abuse, and new convictions one year following release from jail. Qualitative analysis revealed three primary identities of fathers during incarceration: father as nurturer, father as protector, and father as provider. Qualitative analysis of interview data detailed the ways in which the context of incarceration and the presence of the criminal justice system interacts with these identities to impact family structure, parent–child visits, plans for release, and motivation for desistance. Quantitative analysis indicated heterogeneity among fathers, with links between parent–child contact and desistance conditional on fathers’ plans for coresidence with children as well as family support and relationship quality. Taken together, the findings highlight the strengths of African American fathers and their families despite the risks associated with incarceration, including the importance of family support and children as motivation for desistance. The results have implications for how the justice system weighs the bidirectional influences of fathers and families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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13 pages, 348 KiB  
Article
Behavioral and Emotional Problems of Prisoners’ Children Based on the Children’s Self-Report
by Aneta Domżalska, Bartłomiej Skowroński and Tomasz Wolańczyk
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 561; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010561 - 5 Jan 2022
Viewed by 2352
Abstract
The aim of the analyses was to investigate the relations between parental incarceration and the levels of behavioral and emotional problems in children of fathers serving prison sentences, based on the children’s self-report. We tested a criterion group and two control groups. The [...] Read more.
The aim of the analyses was to investigate the relations between parental incarceration and the levels of behavioral and emotional problems in children of fathers serving prison sentences, based on the children’s self-report. We tested a criterion group and two control groups. The criterion group consisted of children whose fathers were in prison. The children in control group I were from complete families; the level of problem behaviors in these families and the level of psychological resiliency in these children were similar to the respective levels in the criterion group. Finally, control group II consisted of children whose fathers were not in prison; problem behaviors in their families were basically absent or slight, and their level of resiliency was significantly higher compared to prisoners’ children and control group I. Prisoners’ children exhibited a higher level of emotional and behavioral problems than children from families in which the father was not serving a prison sentence and in which the level of dysfunctions was low. As regards prisoners’ children compared to their peers with a similar level of resiliency and a similar level of problem behavior in the family, statistically significant differences were found only in a few categories of emotional and behavioral problems. Parental incarceration proved to be an additional factor increasing the level of behavioral and emotional problems in children and adolescents—particularly girls—whose fathers were imprisoned. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
21 pages, 873 KiB  
Article
Against the Odds: A Structural Equation Analysis of Family Resilience Processes during Paternal Incarceration
by Amy A. Morgan, Joyce A. Arditti, Susan Dennison and Signe Frederiksen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11592; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111592 - 4 Nov 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2796
Abstract
On any given day, approximately 2.1 million children in Europe have an incarcerated parent. Although research indicates that material hardship is associated with parental incarceration, and particularly paternal incarceration, little is known about family processes that may mitigate the harmful effects of such [...] Read more.
On any given day, approximately 2.1 million children in Europe have an incarcerated parent. Although research indicates that material hardship is associated with parental incarceration, and particularly paternal incarceration, little is known about family processes that may mitigate the harmful effects of such hardship on children with an incarcerated parent. Guided by a resilience framework, this study examined how family processes mediate the effects of material hardship on youth academic adjustment within the context of paternal incarceration. Using Danish data that assessed key family constructs, structural equation modeling was used to perform a mediational within-group analysis of primary caregivers (n = 727) to children with an incarcerated father. Results indicate that although social support and parenting skills did not yield mediating effects, caregiver mental health strongly mediated the effects of material hardship on youth academic adjustment during paternal incarceration. Findings suggest that economic conditions, as well as caregiver mental health symptoms, are important areas of intervention that may promote family-level resilience for youth of an imprisoned father. We conclude with research and practice recommendations to advance our understanding of resilience among families with an incarcerated parent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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17 pages, 361 KiB  
Article
An Assessment of Prisoner Reentry, Legal Financial Obligations and Family Financial Support: A Focus on Fathers
by Andrea N. Montes, Danielle Wallace, Chantal Fahmy, Abigail Henson, Alyssa W. Chamberlain and Leah A. Jacobs
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9625; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189625 - 13 Sep 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3235
Abstract
Scholars have found that family support is an important facilitator of successful reentry from prison to the community. At the same time, they have argued that owing court-ordered fines or fees, also called legal financial obligations (LFOs), can act as an additional barrier [...] Read more.
Scholars have found that family support is an important facilitator of successful reentry from prison to the community. At the same time, they have argued that owing court-ordered fines or fees, also called legal financial obligations (LFOs), can act as an additional barrier to reentry, especially for parents. There remains a need to test how LFOs impact the financial support formerly incarcerated parents receive from their families. The current study responds to this gap by employing logistic regression analyses of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) data to test whether owing court fees is associated with formerly incarcerated fathers’ (1) perceptions of available financial support from family and (2) receipt of financial support from family. We find that owing court fees is not associated with perceptions of available financial support. However, owing court fees has a positive, statistically significant association with receiving financial support from family during the first three months after prison release. This relationship remains after accounting for whether the person owes child support or sees their children monthly. Our results suggest that LFOs may create a greater need for financial support among formerly incarcerated fathers, making the financial challenges of reentry a consequence not just for those who were incarcerated but for their loved ones as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
14 pages, 1245 KiB  
Article
Coparenting and Mental Health in Families with Jailed Parents
by Eman Tadros, Kerrie Fanning, Sarah Jensen and Julie Poehlmann-Tynan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8705; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168705 - 18 Aug 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3636
Abstract
The number of families affected by parental incarceration in the United States has increased dramatically in the past three decades, with primarily negative implications for adult mental health and child and family well-being. Despite research documenting increased strain on coparenting relationships, less is [...] Read more.
The number of families affected by parental incarceration in the United States has increased dramatically in the past three decades, with primarily negative implications for adult mental health and child and family well-being. Despite research documenting increased strain on coparenting relationships, less is known regarding the relation between adult mental health and coparenting quality. This study investigated coparenting in families with young children currently experiencing parental incarceration. In a diverse sample of 86 jailed parent–caregiver dyads (n = 172), this analysis of a short-term longitudinal study examined the links among jailed parents’ and children’s at-home caregivers’ externalizing mental health symptoms and perceived coparenting alliance quality using the Actor–Partner Interdependence Model. Analyses using structural equation modeling revealed a medium sized negative partner effect for externalizing behaviors on coparenting alliance for jailed parents, wherein caregivers increased externalizing symptoms related to jailed parents’ lower reported coparenting quality. Caregiver–partner effects and both actor effects resulted in small effects. These findings highlight the roles of mental health and coparenting relationship quality when a parent is incarcerated and contribute to the existing literature on incarcerated coparenting, with implications for theory and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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30 pages, 2907 KiB  
Article
The Health and Development of Young Children Who Witnessed Their Parent’s Arrest Prior to Parental Jail Incarceration
by Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, Luke Muentner, Kaitlyn Pritzl, Hilary Cuthrell, Lauren A. Hindt, Laurel Davis and Rebecca Shlafer
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4512; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094512 - 23 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3798
Abstract
Most U.S. incarceration occurs in jails, with more than 10 million annual admissions, and most individuals in jail are parents of minor children. In this short-term longitudinal study, we examined the health and development of young children who did or did not witness [...] Read more.
Most U.S. incarceration occurs in jails, with more than 10 million annual admissions, and most individuals in jail are parents of minor children. In this short-term longitudinal study, we examined the health and development of young children who did or did not witness their parent’s arrest prior to parental jail incarceration. 228 individuals in 76 triads (incarcerated parents, children, at-home caregivers) were enrolled from four jails in two states. Jailed parents and caregivers reported on whether the child witnessed the parent’s arrest or crime. Children’s caregivers completed questionnaires about children’s emotional symptoms during the prior 6 months and demographics, as well as children’s emotional reactions to separation from the parent and child health at the initial assessment and 2 weeks later. Trained researchers conducted a developmental assessment with children while waiting to visit parents. Results of regression-based moderated mediation analyses indicated that when their emotional symptoms were high, children who witnessed parental arrest were more likely to have poorer health initially and more intense negative reactions to the parent leaving for jail. In addition, when children’s general emotional symptoms were low, children who witnessed their parent’s arrest were more likely to exhibit developmental delays, especially in their early academic skills, compared to children who did not witness the arrest. Witnessing the parent’s crime related to missed milestones in social and adaptive development. Findings have implications for policies regarding safeguarding children during parental arrest and referrals for health- and development-promotion services following parental criminal justice system involvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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19 pages, 1356 KiB  
Article
Correlates of a Positive Parenting Experience in Prison
by Miryam Carretero-Trigo, Rodrigo J. Carcedo and Noelia Fernández-Rouco
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 626; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020626 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2453
Abstract
The two goals of this study were: (1) to explore the relationship of a parent’s experience in prison in combination with a range of characteristics relating to the parent in prison, to the children, and to the caregiver, and (2) to explore the [...] Read more.
The two goals of this study were: (1) to explore the relationship of a parent’s experience in prison in combination with a range of characteristics relating to the parent in prison, to the children, and to the caregiver, and (2) to explore the role of sex and nationality in this relationship. A total of 202 parents in prison (99 men and 103 women; 106 Spanish and 96 foreigners) participated in this study. To maximize the understanding of the questions, in-person interviews were conducted to collect answers to the questionnaire. The findings particularly highlight the importance of the role of the primary caregiver in ensuring that the parent in prison has a positive parenting experience during incarceration. More specifically, the parent in prison reports a better parenting experience when they perceive the primary caregiver as a link between themselves and their children in a positive way. This finding points to the importance of intervention and research on this relationship in order to enhance parental satisfaction and the relationship between the imprisoned parent and their children, as well as the family’s resilience during parental imprisonment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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14 pages, 894 KiB  
Article
Incarceration Exposure and Barriers to Prenatal Care in the United States: Findings from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System
by Alexander Testa and Dylan B. Jackson
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 7331; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197331 - 8 Oct 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3888
Abstract
Previous research demonstrates that exposure to incarceration during pregnancy – either personally or vicariously through a partner – worsens parental care. However, little is known about the specific barriers to parental care that are associated with incarceration exposure. Using data from the Pregnancy [...] Read more.
Previous research demonstrates that exposure to incarceration during pregnancy – either personally or vicariously through a partner – worsens parental care. However, little is known about the specific barriers to parental care that are associated with incarceration exposure. Using data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (years 2009–2016), the current study examines the relationship between exposure to incarceration during pregnancy and barriers to prenatal care in the United States. Negative binomial and logistic regression models were used to assess the association between the recent incarceration of a woman or her partner (i.e., incarceration that occurred in the 12 months prior to the focal birth) and several barriers to prenatal care. Findings indicate that exposure to incarceration, either personally or vicariously through a partner, increases the overall number of barriers to prenatal care and this association operates through several specific barriers including a lack of transportation to doctor’s appointments, having difficulty finding someone to take care of her children, being too busy, keeping pregnancy a secret, and a woman not knowing she was pregnant. Policies designed to help incarceration exposed women overcome these barriers can potentially yield benefits for enhancing access to parental care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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Review

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16 pages, 385 KiB  
Review
Challenges Associated with Parenting While Incarcerated: A Review
by Monika Dargis and Arielle Mitchell-Somoza
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9927; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189927 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4372
Abstract
Of the 2.5 million people who are incarcerated in the United States, over half are parents. While it is well-established that incarceration has a detrimental impact on the children of incarcerated parents, less is known regarding the psychological impact of incarceration on parents [...] Read more.
Of the 2.5 million people who are incarcerated in the United States, over half are parents. While it is well-established that incarceration has a detrimental impact on the children of incarcerated parents, less is known regarding the psychological impact of incarceration on parents themselves. The present review summarizes existing literature on the impact of incarceration on parents retrieved via online databases. Published articles were classified according to their overall themes and summarized. Pertinent studies include the psychological and emotional consequences of incarceration on parents, the experience of parenting while incarcerated, including barriers to parenting, the utility of parenting program interventions during periods of incarceration, and how these results differ for mothers and fathers. While the existing evidence introduces these issues, there is a need for additional research on the impact of incarceration on parents. These areas for future research as well as clinical implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

44 pages, 1083 KiB  
Systematic Review
Parental Incarceration, Development, and Well-Being: A Developmental Systematic Review
by Alicia Herreros-Fraile, Rodrigo J. Carcedo, Antonio Viedma, Victoria Ramos-Barbero, Noelia Fernández-Rouco, Pilar Gomiz-Pascual and Consuelo del Val
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(4), 3143; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20043143 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3007
Abstract
Despite an increasing number of studies examining the impact of parental incarceration on children’s well-being, there are few comprehensive reviews that collect this information, and even fewer from a developmental perspective. This study aims to clarify the effects of parental incarceration on children’s [...] Read more.
Despite an increasing number of studies examining the impact of parental incarceration on children’s well-being, there are few comprehensive reviews that collect this information, and even fewer from a developmental perspective. This study aims to clarify the effects of parental incarceration on children’s well-being and development, as well as the moderating and mediating factors from a developmental perspective. A systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines, selecting 61 studies of children from early childhood to adolescence. The results show differences in the current evidence regarding the effects of parental incarceration on children depending on the developmental stage, with the most evidence in the 7–11-year-old stage. Being male appears as a risk moderator factor while the mental health of the caregiver and their relationship with the child appears as a mediating variable, especially from 7 to 18 years old. These results reveal the impact of parental incarceration based on children’s age, providing a basis for developing protective and intervention measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Parental Incarceration on the Family)
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