213069 When Mom Goes to Prison: Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:35 AM

Jane Siegel , Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University-Camden, Camden, NJ
Children of incarcerated parents are said to be among the most at-risk children in the United States and have been reported to experience a number of psychological and behavioral consequences as a result of separation from their parent: academic difficulties, sadness, traumatic stress, withdrawal and other internalizing behaviors, as well as behavioral problems such as delinquency and aggressive behavior. Almost all that is known about the children, however, is based on reports by parents, guardians, social workers or others involved in the care of the children. This paper reports on the results of a qualitative study of 68 children and their mothers. Seventeen of the children were interviewed at a time when they had been separated from their mothers at least one year due to the mother's incarceration in state prison. The other 51 children were interviewed both before the final disposition of their mother's case and several months after her sentencing. Utilizing the children's and mothers' own narratives, the paper will report on the emotional and material difficulties that arise for many children as a result of a mother's incarceration, the barriers to maintaining the mother-child relationship erected when a mother is in prison or jail and the difficulties associated with reunification following release from prison.

Learning Objectives:
Identify problems children of incarcerated parents face. Examine the reentry problems families face when the incarcerated mother is released. Describe behavioral consequences children with incarcerated parents face.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have done extensive research and published peer-reviewed work on the topic about which I am presenting.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.