Racial/Ethnic Disparities

  • Angela BrunsEmail author
  • Hedwig Lee


Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American men and women are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, including arrests, convictions, and incarceration, which means their children are also disproportionately affected. Although these disparities often motivate research on the consequences of incarceration for children and families, studies that explicitly engage with the dynamics of race/ethnicity and the criminal justice system are rare. In this chapter, we review quantitative and qualitative research that takes on the important task of understanding how parental criminal justice involvement interacts with race/ethnicity to shape children’s life experiences. We first summarize statistics on racial/ethnic disparities in the criminal justice involvement of parents. We then review research that examines whether the impact of parental criminal justice involvement varies by race/ethnicity and perspectives on why differences in the consequences may exist. Next, we consider how these disparities contribute to overall inequalities in child well-being. We consider a range of social outcomes and domains, from infant mortality to physical health and problems at school as well as avenues for future research on race/ethnicity and criminal justice system contact.


Mass incarceration Racial/ethnic disparities Parental incarceration Child well-being Stratification 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Studies CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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