Being a Parent and Acting Like One: The Role of Parental Status and Parenting Responsibilities in Predicting Relapse and Recidivism Among Drug-Involved Female Prison Releasees

Martin Cynthia A. Robbins, University of Delaware
Steven S. Martin, University of Delaware
Hilary L. Surratt, University of Delaware

Many incarcerated drug-involved women are parents. The effects of parental status and parental participation have not been extensively examined in predicting the likelihood of relapse or recidivism. In this paper we examine a sample of 250 female prisoners in Delaware who have been released from prison and followed for over 3 years. The sample respondents receive a baseline interview at the time of prison release, and they are followed up at 6 months, 18 month, and 42 months after release from prison. Some of these women participated in drug treatment programs while in custody, and the effects of program participation are also considered in the analyses. In this paper, we first describe the parental status and roles of these female offenders at the time of prison release. The data support the conclusion that most women releasees do have parental roles and expectations for providing care when they are out of prison. Multivariate logistic and OLS regression models utilizing the panel data suggest that active involvement in parenting roles has effects on long term success in avoiding relapse and recidivism, net of any effects of treatment participation. Discussion centers on a consideration of variables that seem to specify or moderate the role of parental status and involvement in predicting likelihood of remaining drug free and arrest free.

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Updated 05/20/2006