The Complex Consequences of Parental Incarceration


Researchers have long highlighted the negative consequences of parental incarceration, but a new study published in this month's American Sociological Review suggests the effects may be more nuanced than previously realized.

For the report, researchers analyzed data from the Fragile Families & Child Wellbeing Study, a study involving nearly 5,000 mostly unmarried parents of children born in urban areas. Over the course of the survey, from 1998 to 2000, almost half of the fathers spent time in prison or jail.

The study found negative effects of incarceration on fathers' engagement with children, “but only when fathers were living with their children prior to incarceration,” according to the report.

Researchers found that incarceration had little effect on the parenting skills of fathers who weren't living with their children, prior to incarceration, even after release.

“Furthermore …. paternal incarceration sharply increases the probability a mother repartners, potentially offsetting some losses from the biological father's lesser involvement while simultaneously leading to greater family complexity,” researchers wrote.

Read the full study HERE.

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