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Collateral Consequences of Incarceration Revisited: A Qualitative Analysis of the Effects on Caregivers of Children of Incarcerated Parents

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 50 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2012 Pages: 913-960
Jillian J. Turanovic; Nancy Rodriguez; Travis C. Pratt
Date Published
November 2012
48 pages
This study examined the effect that imprisonment has on the caregivers of children of incarcerated parents.
While policymakers have long extolled the benefits of incarceration, criminologists have expended considerable effort demonstrating the harmful collateral consequences of incarceration. Sampson (2011) recently challenged researchers to move beyond this dichotomy and to assess the "social ledger" of incarceration, where both the potential benefits and harms associated with incarceration are examined. To shed light on the variation in the collateral consequences of incarceration, the authors focus on the experiences of a valuable group of individuals directly impacted by imprisonment: those caring for children of incarcerated parents. Drawing from in-depth interviews with a diverse group of caregivers (N= 100), the authors examine the various consequences (both positive and negative) that occur in their lives as a result of incarceration, as well as the causal processes responsible for the outcomes we observe. Our findings reveal marked variation in the effects of incarceration on caregivers. Such effects are shaped by (1) the prisoner's prior parental involvement, (2) the interpersonal relationship between caregiver and prisoner, and (3) the caregiver's family support system. These findings have important implications for future work conducted on the collateral consequences of incarceration for caregivers, children, and families. (Published Abstract)