The Effects of Incarcerating Mothers in the US

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When a crime is committed the most common punishment in the United States is incarceration. During the past several decades the total of incarcerated adults have jumped from 320,000 to approximately 1.4 million. In 2007, more than half of the number of adults incarcerated, in state or federal prisons, has been parents. Majority of the children, whom are involved in situations that their parents are incarcerated, have been directly impacted (Kjellstrand et. al, 2012, p. 2409). Incarceration of a father has an impact on children, but it has been found that incarceration of a child’s mother has been more significant. Incarcerated women The amount of incarcerated women is increasing at a rapid rate. This number is growing at a rate almost doubled of those of men (Dallaire, 2006, p. 15). Besides the fact of being incarcerated, women whom have children while incarcerated have even more stressors. The relationship between a woman and her children is the central emotional focus. These women are experiencing guilt, anxiety, and a sense of failure. While having these negative emotions, a women’s child is also seen as a source of hope, an internal connection, and a motivation for change. Mothers in prisons “reported that the lack of involvement in the daily lives of their children was among the hardest things to bear about incarceration” (Young & Smith, 2000, p. 133). High levels of stress in women in prison are associated with increased feelings of depression. “Depression, guilt, distress, decreased self-esteem, and a sense of loss” are some of the more common symptoms that women in prison experience (Young & Smith, 2000, p. 133). Mothers are not able to respond to the daily concerns of children as a mother sh... ... middle of paper ... ...egivers: Factors affecting the quality of their relationship. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15, 581-596. Myers, B., Smarsh, T., Amlund-Hagen, K., & Kennon, B. (1999). Children of incarcerated mothers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 8, 11-25. Myers, B., Mackintosh, V., Kuznetsova, M., Lotze, G., Best, A., & Ravindran, N. (2013). Relationship processes and resilience in children with incarcerated parents: Teasing, bullying, and emotion regulation in children of incarcerated mothers. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78, 26-40. Nesmith, A. & Ruhland, E. (2008). Children of incarcerated parents: Challenges and resiliency in their own words. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1119 – 1130. Young, D. & Smith, J. (2000). When moms are incarcerated: The needs of children, mothers, and caregivers. Families in Society, 81, 130-141.

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