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Children of the Prison Boom


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2. The Social Patterning of Parental Imprisonment 3. Before and After Imprisonment 4. Paternal Incarceration and Mental Health and Behavioral Problems 5. Paternal Incarceration and Infant Mortality 6. Parental Incarceration and Child Homelessness 7. Mass Imprisonment and Childhood Inequality 8. Conclusion Methodological Appendix Notes References Index

About the Author

Sara Wakefield is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. Christopher Wildeman is Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University


"A burgeoning research program studies the effects of the American prison boom by examining the social and economic life of men and women after incarceration. In their important book, Wakefield and Wildeman go a step further, studying how children are affected when a parent is sent to prison. Through careful analyses, the authors document the profound effects of mass incarceration on the lived experience of child poverty in America."--Bruce Western, Harvard University "Wakefield and Wildeman examine the deleterious consequences of high rates of incarceration for one of the most powerless and vulnerable groups in society - children. They make a strong case that parental incarceration has not only short-term negative effects, but also long-term consequences in solidifying and extending social inequalities among children. This book is a must read for scholars and policymakers interested in how high rates incarceration in the U. S. have affected children, especially those who are black and poor." --John H. Laub, University of Maryland, College Park "Wakefield and Wildeman provide a masterful and chilling account of how three decades of mass incarceration have lowered the life chances of America's most vulnerable children. In so doing, they show that the criminal justice system now plays a vital role -- along with schools, neighborhoods, and families - in the maintenance of childhood inequality." --Sara McLanahan, Princeton University "Much has been written about the consequences of mass incarceration for low skilled men, the labor market, and racial inequality among adults in the U.S. The collateral consequences for children have, until now, been less well-documented. Drawing on rigorous empirical analysis, Sara Wakefield and Christopher Wildeman make great strides in filling this gap by documenting changes in the proportion of children with an incarcerated parent, the cumulative risks of experiencing a parental incarceration, as well as how these factors vary by race and social class. They paint a rich portrait of the contemporary and long-term consequences, good and bad, of parental incarceration and uncover a fundamental source of inequality in the United States." --Steven Raphael, University of California, Berkeley "This is the book's key, powerful contribution: there is ample evidence that parental imprisonment compromises children's life chances, but the sheer scale -- and unequal impact -- of the prison boom has serious consequences for long-term inequality in US society. This excellent book should be compulsory reading for those making decisions about criminal justice policy, and for anyone seeking a better understanding of inequality in contemporary society." --Times Higher Education "...[A]n original contribution to criminology..." --CHOICE "This is an important book. It does a remarkable service for academics, policy makers, and practitioners by powerfully identifying in three data sets the casual effects of the incarceration of fathers and children." --American Journal of Sociology One area that has been lacking proper investigation, however, is the impact of mass incarceration on the children of the incarcerated. Sara Wakefield and Christopher Wildeman successfully fill that void with their new book. Professors Wakefield's and Wildeman's scholarship is excellent, important, and timely."--New York Journal Of Books'

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