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Children with Incarcerated Parents

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Children with Incarcerated Parents
Juvenile Justice
And
The effects on
Children of Incarcerated Parents

Loretta R. Lynch
Capstone 480
Ms. Mel Jones

Abstract

Today prisons are overcrowded and over two million Americans, male, and female are sitting in jail or prison, and two thirds of those people incarcerated are parents (U.S. Department of Justice). Approximately two million of these children are separated from their mom or dad because of incarceration of which these are the custodial parent. These children suffer from poverty, inconsistency in caregivers, separation from siblings, reduced education, increased risk for substance abuse, alcoholism and incarceration themselves.

Studies have shown that children who lack parental relationships that combine loving support with structured discipline will show increased signs of antisocial behavior (Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 21(4). This behavior is exhibited in children with incarcerated parents because bonds are likely to have never formed or are broken upon imprisonment. The attachment a child has to their parent, as well as the indirect controls a parent has over the child, forms protective factors that reduce the incidence of delinquency (Abidin, R. 1983). Children of incarcerated parents are not always afforded protective factors, and are exposed to higher levels of risk factors that can contribute to delinquent behavior. Parental incarceration increases a child’s chance of experiencing disruptions, ineffective parenting, and loss of parental contact and academic difficulties, which can lead to juvenile delinquency. In the last three decades, family life in the United States has changed dramatically. Currently over eight point five million families with children under eighteen years of age are maintained by single parents, eighty percent of which are single as a result of separation or divorce (Hamner & Turner, 1990). A significant contributing factor to single parent households is the estimated



References: Adalist-Estrin, A. (1986). Parenting from behind bars. Family Resource Coalition - FRC Report, 1, 12-13. Abidin, R. (1983). Parenting stress index. Charlottesville, VA: Pediatric Psychology Press. Burchinal, L., Hawkes, G., & Gardner, B. (1957). The relationship between parental acceptance and adjustment of children. Child Development, 28, 67-77. Inmate X. (2012, December). Interview by L Lynch [Personal Interview] housed at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women Inmate Y, (2013, December) Boy A. (2012, December). Interview by L Lynch [Personal Interview]. Boy B. (2012, December). Interview by L Lynch [Personal Interview]. Boy C. (2013, December). Interview by L Lynch [Personal Interview]. Brice, L. (2012, December 14). Interview by L Lynch [Personal Interview]. Juvenile justice system.

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