Parenthood and Criminal Offending

Sara Wakefield, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota

ABSTRACT
Currently,a bout 1.5 million children in the United States have at least one incarcerated parent and 22% of these children are under the age of five. About 600,000 inmates emerge from prisons each year and family reunification is often the first adjustment they face as they reenter the community. There are relatively few programs dedicated to successful family reintegration for offenders yet debates about the wisdom of reuniting children with criminally-involved parents are common. Theoretical work in criminology suggests a number of ways in which the preseence of children may impact the criminal offending of their parents. Children mnay reduce parental crime if their presence helps to strengthen family attachments and reinforce prosocial role adoption. Alternatively, children may increase criminal involvement of parents by adding stress and financial strain to individuals who already experience a wide variety of disadvantages. This study of recidivism examines these propositions by analyzing the impact of having or living with a child on the criminal offending of their parents. Additionally, our analyses explore gender differenbdes in the impact of changing family status of criminal offending.

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Updated 05/20/2006