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Survey Reveals Need for Parenting Programs in PA Prisons

NCJ Number
M Lukens
Date Published
7 pages
A survey of the family background of State prison inmates in Pennsylvania indicates the need for parenting programs in correctional facilities to help break the intergenerational cycle of crime and violence.
Most of Pennsylvania's 24 prisons and one motivational boot camp offer parenting programs. The Department of Corrections (DOC) has recently expanded its efforts by including an additional $500,000 in the 1999-2000 budget for parenting programs. The DOC sponsors parenting symposiums to build stronger connections between parenting programs inside prisons and community outreach programs, the goal being to support inmates after release. The DOC is planning to expand its Long Distance Dads program to encourage inmates to become responsible fathers and to stay involved in their children's lives even though they are in prison. A survey was conducted by the DOC to collect information about children of inmates. Of 638 inmates in the survey sample, 599 were men and 39 were women. Fifty-five percent had at least one minor child and 42 percent had two or more minor children. Nearly 82 percent said their children were cared for by their mothers, 7 percent by grandparents, 5 percent by fathers or stepfathers, and 3 percent by aunts or uncles. Approximately 45 percent of inmates were raised in a traditional, two-parent household, while 43 percent were raised in a single-parent household. Of the 277 who grew up in a single-parent household, 243 lived with their mothers and 18 lived with their fathers. Studies on the relationship between childhood experiences and adult criminal behavior in New York and Texas are also reported. 4 figures and 1 table