The Mass Incarceration of Parents in America: Issues of Race/ Ethnicity, Collateral Damage to Children, and Prisoner Reentry Academic Article uri icon


  • The authors discuss social selection, stigmatization, and socialization/strain theoretical explanations for the intergenerational influences of parental incarceration on their children. Results with national survey data reveal that net of selection factors, paternal imprisonment decreases the educational attainment of children in emerging adulthood. While this pattern is found across race/ethnicity, the results in combination with disproportionate minority confinement suggest that parental incarceration is a mechanism of social exclusion of these groups. With data on Texas prisoners, the authors further find that about two-thirds of Hispanic fathers and about half of African American and Anglo fathers expect to live with their children and families when they return to their communities. This last finding suggests a broad foundation across racial/ethnic groups for the investment of resources in supporting the rehabilitation and reunification of these prospective families, for the welfare of the children, their parents, and the communities in which they live.

author list (cited authors)

  • Foster, H., & Hagan, J.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009 11:11 AM