Effects of Incarceration

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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



References: Arditti, J. A., Lambert-Shute, J., & Joest, K. (2003). Saturday morning at the jail: Implications of incarceration for families and children. Family Relations, 52(3), 195-204. 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. Lange, S. M. (2000). The challenges confronting children of incarcerated parents. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 11(4), 61-68. Lowenstein, A. (1986). Temporary single parenthood—The case of prisoners’ families. Family Relations, 35, 79-85. Mumola, C. J. (2000). Incarcerated parents and their children. NCJ 182335. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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