Effects of Incarceration

Topics: Parent, Childhood, Prison Pages: 12 (4009 words) Published: April 21, 2011
Incarceration can have multiple profound effects on a person. While the goal of incarceration is to rehabilitate the person to follow laws, the result is often isolation and loss of valuable resources that a person needs to maintain a positive role outside the prison system. Many people are affected by the incarceration of a person, from the family, to the community and employers, to society in general. Here is a brief look at some of those affected by a person's incarceration. 1. Children

* The worst effects of incarceration can be found in the children of those who are in jail. The children can develop feelings of anger and abandonment. These feelings can be directed to other children, law enforcement or to the other parent. Another effect of incarceration is that, if the prison term is long enough, the child will grow to accept that the missing parent is no longer in his life or may even forget about the incarcerated parent. Parents

* The parents of an incarcerated person can often feel at fault for their child being in jail. They can also feel as if they should have done more. If a young child or teenager is the incarcerated person, parents feel even more blame, because they consider this a failure of their parenting and the child's loss at a young age. Extended family, such as grandparents and aunts or uncles, can also be affected by this problem. Spouses

* Depending on the length of incarceration, a spouse can feel as though the jailed person has died. Often the loss of a significant other for long periods of time can lead to a re-evaluation of the commitment. This can be due to a feeling of abandonment, because the incarcerated person chose the act that placed him in jail. When leaving the prison system, the ex-convict does not know if his life can be rebuilt and if his partner has moved on or adjusted to life without him. Employment

* One of the most debilitating effects of incarceration is the stereotype that employers give to ex-convicts. Many times, although it is illegal, employers will refuse employment to ex-convicts. Ex-offenders also have problems explaining the gaps on their employment history. Another issue is the lack of resources in finding gainful employment, usually one of the requirements to staying out of jail. Society

* The effects of incarceration on a person can be forced upon them by the reality of society. There is a common belief that incarcerated people deserve second chances, but this belief is rarely upheld and a social stigma surrounds the ex-con. The effects of incarceration include the loss of voting rights; many times, the loss of affordable housing, discrimination, loss of pride and dignity among others; and an overall view by society that such a person is unable to be a productive member of a community. Self

* When a person leaves prison, the effects of incarceration can be profound. In jail, there is a sense of order, security, belonging and knowing that basic needs are met. When an ex-convict returns to the outside world, all of these things are no longer present, and necessities such as food, clothing, stable residence and job can become difficult and even seem impossible to obtain. This failure can cause ex-convicts to reoffend, because they see no other way to survive.

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Much literature exists on the nuances of family structure and its inextricable relation to optimal child development. There are considerable resources on single-parent households resulting from death and divorce, for instance; but there has been, and there still remains, to this day, an insufficient amount of research on the effects of paternal incarceration on the lives of children. Studies have reported that children suffer adverse effects in response to the absence in the family of a father (Fritsch & Burkhead, 1981), but the effects of...

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Fritsch, T. A., & Burkhead, J. D. (1981). Behavioral reactions of children to parental absence due to imprisonment. Family Relations, 30(1), 83-88.
Gabel, S. (1992). Children of incarcerated and criminal parents: Adjustment, behavior, and prognosis. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 20(1), 33-45.
Hannon, G., Martin, D., & Martin, M. (1984). Incarceration in the family: Adjustment to change. Family Therapy, 11(3), 253-260.
Johnson, E. I., & Waldfogel, J. (2002). Parental incarceration: Recent trends and implications for child welfare. Social Service Review, 76(3), 460-479.
Johnston, D. (1992). Children of offenders. Pasadena, CA: Pacific Oaks Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents.
Johnston, D. (1995). Effects of parental incarceration. In K. Gabel & D. Johnston (Eds.), Children of incarcerated parents (pp. 59-88). New York: Lexington Books.
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