Prisoners and Families: Parenting Issues During Incarceration

In doing some research for my talk on Women and Children in the Jails and Prisons of the Nation i came across this article on associated issues and felt it touched on too many issues to be ignored and that might prove helpful to some and did not know what to do with it so i posted a part here and included a link to the full article.

From the introduction: “The preservation and strengthening of families has a longstanding history as a United States public policy priority and as a major objective of governmental agencies and not for profit service organizations. Social welfare policies and programs that help families protect, nurture and care for their children and adult family members are recognized by the nation’s political leaders as a social investment and many formal and informal efforts are directed toward that end. Notwithstanding the millions of families affected by incarceration on any given day, the well being of prisoners’ families and children has not been an important part of this social policy agenda. Similarly, services and activities that assist prisoners in carrying out family roles and responsibilities have seldom been included in the strategic plans of social services agencies or corrections departments. ”

http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/prison2home02/Hairston.htm

“Although most mothers and a substantial number of fathers plan to reunify with their children upon their release, they worry that their children will be taken from them or that someone else will take their place in their children’s lives (Hairston, 1991b, 1995; Koban, 1983; Lanier, 1991). The fear that children will be taken by the state or that their parent-child bonds will be legally severed is harbored by fathers and mothers (Baunach, 1985; Hairston, Wills and Wall, 1997).

Prisoners’ personal situations and child welfare policies and practices indicate that these fears are not unfounded. Although visiting increases the prospects for reunification of separated families, most parents in prison never see their children. Each parental prison term reduces the likelihood that children will reside with their mothers upon release and recidivism is quite high (Hairston, 1991b). Most fathers do not have a legal or emotional bond with their children’s mothers (Hairston, 1995; Mumola, 2000; Nurse, 2001) that might be expected to support reunification of households. In addition, communication between these mates or former partners is more often contentious than cordial (Hairston, 1995; Jeffries, Menghraj and Hairston, 2000; Nurse, 2001). Though one might expect married prisoners to be in a position that protects or supports their relationships with their children, many marital relationships are strained and end during imprisonment (Hairston, 1991; Lynch and Sabol, 2001; Sharp and Marcus-Mendoza,1998).”

This entry was posted in Prison and Jails, The Problem, Women and Children. Bookmark the permalink.

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