Skip to main content

Policy Commentary: The Research Evidence Policymakers Need to Build Better Public Policy for Children of Incarcerated Parents

  • Chapter
Children’s Contact with Incarcerated Parents

Part of the book series: SpringerBriefs in Psychology ((ACFPP))

  • 1519 Accesses

Abstract

This commentary identifies what research evidence is needed to inform policy on what may be incarceration’s longest-lasting legacy—its impact on the next generation. Drawing on theory and practice, these comments are targeted to researchers interested in generating and disseminating policy-relevant research to build better public policy for children of incarcerated parents. For policy-informed evidence, researchers need to understand the policymakers who will be using the information and the environment in which they operate. For evidence-informed policy, policymakers need research that provides a more complete and comprehensive understanding of how children’s well-being is influenced by contact with their incarcerated parents, what the mediators and moderators of that influence are, and what the cost/benefits might be of intervening in ways that will benefit children. What’s more, policymakers need family-focused research on how families can contribute to more effective and efficient policies, what the advertent and inadvertent consequences of policies are for fragile families, who the concept of family should include, and whether family disparities exist. Just as the number of children losing a parent to incarceration is unprecedented, researchers are called to produce research-based, family-focused evidence that is unprecedented in its scale and quality.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 44.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Abner, K., & Gordon, R. A. (2012). Differential response: A family impact analysis (Family impact analysis series). Madison, WI: Family Impact Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Acock, A. C., & Acock, D. A. (2014). When men are released from prison: What have we done? Family Focus, 59(F3), F5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Aos, S., Miller, M., & Drake, E. (2006). Evidenced-based public policy options to reduce future prison construction, criminal justice costs, and crime rates. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arditti, J. A. (2012). Parental incarceration and the family: Psychological and social effects of imprisonment on children, parents, and caregivers. New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arditti, J. A. (2014). A family perspective on incarceration and criminal justice involvement. Family Focus, 59, F1–F2, F4, F6–F7.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arditti, J. A., Joest, K. S., Lambert-Shute, J., & Walker, L. (2010). The role of emotions in fieldwork: A self-study of family research in a corrections setting. The Qualitative Report, 15, 1387–1414.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arditti, J. A., & Savla, J. (2013). Parental incarceration and child trauma symptoms in single caregiver homes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1–11. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9867-2

  • Bogenschneider, K. (2014). Family policy matters: How policymaking affects families and what professionals can do (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge and Taylor & Francis Group.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bogenschneider, K., & Corbett, T. (2010). Evidence-based policymaking: Insights from policy-minded researchers and research-minded policymakers. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bogenschneider, K., & Gross, E. (2004). From ivory tower to state house: How youth theory can inform youth policy making. Family Relations, 53, 21–26. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2004.00005.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bogenschneider, K., Little, O., Ooms, T., Benning, S., Cadigan, K., & Corbett, T. (2012). The family impact lens: A family-focused, evidence-informed approach to policy and practice. Family Relations, 61, 514–531. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00704.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bogenschneider, K., Little, O., & Johnson, K. (2013). Policymakers’ use of social science research: Looking within and across policy actors. Journal of Marriage and Family, 75(2), 263–275. doi:10.1111/jomf.12009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carroll, J. (2007, December 26). Public: “Family values” important to presidential vote. Gallup poll. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/103375/public-family-values-important-presidential-vote.aspx

  • Chamberlain, P., & Reid, J. B. (1991). Using a specialized foster care community treatment model for children and adolescents leaving the state mental hospital. Journal of Community Psychology, 19, 266–276. doi:10.1002/1520-6629(199107)19:33.0.CO;2-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cherlin, A. J. (2009). The marriage-go-round: The state of marriage and the family in America today. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2008). Differential response to reports of child abuse and neglect. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/issue_briefs/differential_response/differential_response.pdf

  • Comfort, M., Nurse, A. M., McKay, T., & Kramer, K. (2011). Taking children into account. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 839–850. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00750.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Corbett, T. (1993). Child poverty and welfare reform: Progress or paralysis? Focus, 15(1), 1–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Courtney, M. E., Hook, J. L., & Lee, J. S. (2010). Distinct subgroups of former foster youth during young adulthood: Implications for policy and practice (Issue Brief). Retrieved from http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/publications/Midwest_IB4_Latent_Class_2.pdf

  • Cowan, P., & Cowan, C. P. (2008). Diverging family policies to promote children’s well-being in the UK and US: Some relevant data from family research and intervention studies. Journal of Children’s Services, 3(4), 4–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dallaire, D. H., & Zeman, J. L. (2013). Empathy as a protective factor for children with incarcerated parents. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78, 7–25. doi:10.1111/mono.12018.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dunst, C. J., Trivette, C. M., & Hamby, D. W. (2007). Meta-analysis of family-centered help-giving practices research. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 370–378. doi:10.1002/mrdd.20176.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Eddy, J. M., Martinez, C. R., Jr., & Burraston, B. (2013). A randomized controlled trial of a parent management training program for incarcerated parents: Proximal impacts. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78, 75–93. doi:10.1111/mono.12022.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edin, K., & Nelson, T. J. (2013). Doing the best I can: Fatherhood in the inner city. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Golinelli, D., & Minton, T. D. (2014). Jail inmates at midyear 2013—Statistical tables (revised) [Table]. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4988

  • Haidt, J., & Hetherington, M. J. (2012, September 17). Look how far we’ve come apart. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/look-how-far-weve-come-apart/

  • Harris, B. H., & Kearney, M. S. (2014). The unequal burden of crime and incarceration on America’s poor. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holt, N., & Miller, D. (1972). Explorations in inmate-family relationships (Research Report No. 46). Retrieved from http://www.fcnetwork.org/reading/holt-miller/holt-millersum.html#SUMMARY

  • Kruttschnitt, C. (2011). Is the devil in the details? Crafting policy to mitigate the collateral consequences of parental incarceration. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 829–837. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00732.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levin, B. R. (2003, November). Improving research–policy relationships: Lessons from the case of literacy. Paper prepared for the OISE/UT International Literacy Conference: Literacy Policies for the Schools We Need, Toronto, Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levin, B. R. (2005). Governing education. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. (Original work published 1952)

    Google Scholar 

  • Massoglia, M., & Warner, C. (2011). The consequences of incarceration: Challenges for scientifically informed and policy-relevant research. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 851–863. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00754.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McHale, J. P., Salman, S., Strozier, A., & Cecil, D. K. (2013). Triadic interactions in mother–grandmother coparenting systems following maternal release from jail. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78, 57–74. doi:10.1111/mono.12021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McKay, T., Bir, A., & Lindquist, C. (2014). Facing incarceration and preparing for reentry: The needs and hopes of young families. Family Focus, 59(F7), F9–F10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morris, E. (2001). Theodore rex. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Myers, B. J., Mackintosh, V. H., Kuznetsova, M. I., Lotze, G. M., Best, A. M., & Ravindran, N. (2013). Teasing, bullying, and emotion regulation in children of incarcerated mothers. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78, 26–40. doi:10.1111/mono.12019.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2014). Understanding child trauma. Retrieved from http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/policy_and_the_nctsn_final.pdf

  • Ooms, T. (1995, October). Taking families seriously: Family impact analysis as an essential policy tool. Paper presented at the Expert Meeting on Family Impact, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ooms, T., & Preister, S. (1988). A strategy for strengthening families: Using family criteria in policymaking and program evaluation. Washington, DC: AAMFT Research and Education Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pew Research Center. (2010). The decline of marriage and rise of new families. Retrieved from http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/11/pew-social-trends-2010-families.pdf

  • Pew Research Center. (2012). Partisan polarization surges in Bush, Obama years–Trends in American values: 1987–2012 [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/2012/06/04/partisan-polarization-surges-in-bush-obama-years/

  • Poehlmann, J. (2005). Representations of attachment relationships in children of incarcerated mothers. Child Development, 76, 679–696. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00871.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Poehlmann, J., Dallaire, D., Booker Loper, A., & Shear, L. (2010). Children’s contact with their incarcerated parents: Research findings and recommendations. American Psychologist, 65, 575–598. doi:10.1037/a0020279.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sampson, R. J. (2011). The incarceration ledger: Toward a new era in assessing societal consequences. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 819–828. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00756.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Scott, E. S., & Steinberg, L. D. (2008). Rethinking juvenile justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shedd, C. (2011). Countering the carceral continuum: The legacy of mass incarceration. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 865–871. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00748.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spoth, R. L., Kavanagh, K. A., & Dishion, T. (2002). Family-centered preventive intervention science: Toward benefits to larger populations of children, youth, and families. Prevention Science, 3, 145–152. doi:10.1023/A:1019924615322.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Steinberg, L. (2008). Introducing the issue. The Future of Children, 18(2), 3–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strach, P. (2007). All in the family: The private roots of American public policy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • The Pew Charitable Trusts. (2014). U.S. imprisonment rate continues to drop amid falling crime rates [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases/2014/03/14/us-imprisonment-rate-continues-to-drop-amid-falling-crime-rates.

  • Travis, J. (2005). But they all come back: facing the challenges of prisoner reentry. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Travis, J., McBride, E. C., & Solomon, A. L. (2005). Families left behind: The hidden costs of incarceration and reentry. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tseng, V. (2012). The uses of research in policy and practice. SRCD Social Policy Report, 26(2), 1, 3–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wakefield, S., & Wildeman, C. (2011). Mass imprisonment and racial disparities in childhood behavioral problems. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 791–792. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00741.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weiss, C. H. (1999). Research–policy linkages: How much influence does social science research have? In UNESCO, World Social Science report 1999 (pp. 194–205). Paris: UNESCO.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Sincere appreciation is expressed to Joyce Arditti, Tom Corbett, and Michael Massoglia for their insightful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karen Bogenschneider Ph.D. .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Bogenschneider, K. (2015). Policy Commentary: The Research Evidence Policymakers Need to Build Better Public Policy for Children of Incarcerated Parents. In: Poehlmann-Tynan, J. (eds) Children’s Contact with Incarcerated Parents. SpringerBriefs in Psychology(). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16625-4_6

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics