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"It''s not all cupcakes and lollipops": An investigation of the predictors and effects of prison visitation for children during maternal and paternal incarceration.

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $25,000)

The purpose of this project is to better understand the factors associated with and effects of prison visitation for children during maternal and paternal incarceration. As gatekeepers, caregivers play a pivotal role in the facilitation of parent-child prison visitation. Yet mothers (during paternal incarceration) and grandmothers (during maternal incarceration) may be the most likely facilitators of parent-child visitsdespite the obstacles in doing sogiven their own vested interests in securing parental involvement post-release. Additionally, among those children who do visit, visitation may be positive in some ways and negative in othershence the visitation paradox.
To advance prior work, this study 1) Assesses the relationship between caregiver type and patterns of parent-child prison visitation and 2) Investigates the emotional and behavioral responses of children who visit, relying on and extending the theoretical construct of the visitation paradox. These findings will have direct implications for correctional policy and practice pertaining to the accessibility, cost, manner, and regulation of prison visits and will inform reentry efforts using a family-centric approach.
This project uses a mixed-methods approach and will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1, quantitative data on 1,130 children collected from structured interviews with incarcerated parents (N = 300 mothers; N = 171 fathers) in the Arizona Department of Corrections will be used to assess the relationship between caregiver type and the likelihood/frequency of father-child and mother-child visitation. Phase 2 will draw from qualitative data on 40 children who visit their parent in prison as reported by their caregivers to assess childrens emotional and behavioral well-being.
For Phase 1, descriptive statistics and multivariate analyses (e.g. logistic regression and order probit models) will be run separately by paternal and maternal incarceration. Clustered robust standard errors will be used to correct for correlations between children from the same parent. For Phase 2, qualitative data will be coded to identify positive and negative child internalizing and externalizing behaviors, visitation paradox indicators, child age and prior life circumstances. Thematic content analyses will be conducted to capture major themes and frequencies of themes will be presented.

Date Created: August 22, 2013