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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Criminal Justice Sciences

First Advisor

Dawn Beichner


Although women make up a small portion of our countries prison population, recent studies indicate shockingly high rates of incarceration women have undergone over the past several years. Findings reveal women incarceration rates, in both prison and jails, have nearly doubled in the past decade. The unprecedented escalation in imprisoning women has pushed the number of incarcerated women to nearly a quarter million (Wildemann, 2005). Alas, nearly 80% of today's incarcerated mothers report being the primary caretakers with dependent children prior to incarceration (Greenfield & Snell, 1999).

Like the notation in the rise of women's incarceration, the literature has cited negative effects of incarceration on children. According to research, the effects are most notably: psychosocial, emotional, temperance, disregard for authority and issues at school. Due to the upward trend of incarceration of mothers and the frequency in reporting primary caretaking responsibilities, studies further examining the effects on children left behind are, indeed, laudable additions to the literature.

The literature is vast concerning the effects of incarceration on children. Unfortunately, the effects have not included a racial comparison to identify what, if any, salient differences exist. This study sought to address the scarcity in literature by comparing perceived effects identified by African American and Caucasian women.

Our sample consisted of women incarcerated at a correctional facility, which had a family reunification-parenting program. The results revealed salient differences related to life experiences of mothers growing up; pre-incarceration parenting experiences of mothers in the program; effects on frequency and type of visitation due to the location of the facility; and other directly perceived effects of incarceration on children. Differences were not found regarding drug related charges, in terms of incarcerated individuals; and the type of relationship between mother and child during incarceration.


Imported from ProQuest GodBold_ilstu_0092N_10100.pdf


Page Count


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