Impacts of Incarceration on Children and Families

Authored by: Miriam Northcutt Bohmert , Sara Wakefield

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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Experiencing the incarceration of a family member is now a common experience for some groups in the United States. Estimates vary widely (and all of them are undercounts) but the best available suggest that about 1.9 million children have a parent currently incarcerated and anywhere from 5 to 8 million experienced the incarceration of a residential parent during childhood. Family incarceration experiences are also stunningly racially disparate; a recent estimate found that 44% of Black women and 32% of Black men had a family member incarcerated while only 12% of white women and 6% of white men reported the same. Finally, many more men are incarcerated relative to women, but the number of children with incarcerated mothers has increased substantially and the co-occurrence of father and mother incarceration is an important but relatively unexplored research area.

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