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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 71069 Find in a Library
Title: When Mothers Go to Jail
Author(s): A M Stanton
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 219
Sponsoring Agency: Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development
Boys Town, NE
Lexington Books
New York, NY 10022
Soroptimist International of the Americas
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Sale Source: Lexington Books
866 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study describes the circumstances of incarcerated mothers and their children and explores the problems they encounter. The aim is to understand the consequences for children when a parent is incarcerated.
Abstract: An estimated 15,000 women are incarcerated in the U.S. on any 1 day, and approximately 56 percent of these women are mothers who had dependent children living with them immediately before they were incarcerated. To distinguish the effects of separation because of incarceration from the general effects of the mother's criminal involvement, researchers compared children of incarcerated mothers to children of mothers convicted of similar offenses but granted probation without any jail time. Interviews were conducted with 75 mothers and with their children, who were between the ages of 4 and 18. The subjects came from the counties of Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, California. Urban areas, a variety of racial and ethnic groups, and a complete socioeconomic range are represented in these counties. Chi-square tests of statistical significance were used with the data. The study found that the children did poorly in school and that their welfare status remained unchanged after their mother's incarceration. Nowhere in the course of the legal process were the children of arrested women considered participants in the proceedings. The study also found that the period of incarceration brought about a serious division in the mother-child relationship, that little was done to alleviate the social and economic conditions that may have contributed to the women's criminal behavior,and that the impact of a mother's incarceration did not, in itself, determine a child's attitudes toward community standards. It was suggested that innovative programs are needed to recognize the family ties and responsibilities of offenders and preserve the family unit when a parent is sentenced. Tabular data and 12 appendixes containing forms and interviews used in the study, an occupation classification for female offenders, summary information on 4 county jails, a California statute concerning community treatment programs for female prisoners, and the uniform law commissioners' model sentencing and corrections act are given. A bibliography of 118 citations is included.
Index Term(s): California; Child custody; Children of incarcerated offenders; Female inmates; Female offenders; Parental rights
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