Mass Incarceration in Jail and Family Visitation

Authored by: Emma Conner

Handbook on the Consequences of Sentencing and Punishment Decisions

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138608931
eBook ISBN: 9780429466380
Adobe ISBN:


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The surge in incarceration over the past several decades has been matched by increasing parental incarceration (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). A robust body of literature examines the deleterious outcomes associated with parental incarceration (Wakefield & Wildeman, 2014; Foster & Hagan, 2009; Johnson & Waldfogel, 2002), as well as the possible benefits and drawbacks of visitation (Arditti, 2003; Arditti, 2012; Comfort, 2002; Petersilia, 2003). While the majority of the extant literature on parental incarceration focuses on state and federal facilities (although see Wildeman, Turney, & Yi, 2016), given nationwide reliance on local jails as sites of imprisonment, a critical examination of the role of the jail in the family is imperative. The goal of this chapter is to present the unique characteristics of jail that have the potential to impact familial connectedness and visitation, as well as advance a research agenda and policy recommendations for improved visitation in jail specifically. In an age in which prison downsizing is celebrated (Simon, 2014), the shift from the reliance on state prisons to county jails calls into question the value for families and future success.

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