'Keeping the Peace': The Interaction of Race and Motherhood in the Context of Confinement

Kristin C. Carbone, University of Minnesota
Candace Kruttschnitt, University of Minnesota
Rosemary Gartner, University of Toronto

Criminologists have focused much of their energy in recent years on erupting race relations within male correctional institutions. Concurrently, prison administrations have taken drastic steps to segregate prisons in an effort to curb violence. Surprisingly, most female correctional institutions have not experienced the racial hostility that is common in male institutions. However, it is not clear why women are focused more on "keeping the peace" during their sentence than on controversies linked to race. Our research attempts to answer this question. We posit that because the majority of women in prison are mothers, the concomitant desire to reunite with their children upon release from prison acts as a deterrent to tense, and often, violent race relations. Using data from two large-scale surveys of women's prisons in California, we test whether motherhood affects the prevalence of racial hostility.

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Updated 05/20/2006