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Gender Differences in the Impact of Incarceration on the Children and Families of Drug Offenders

Gender Differences in the Impact of Incarceration on the Children and Families of Drug Offenders,Susan F. Sharp,Susan T. Marcus-Mendoza,Robert G. Bent

Gender Differences in the Impact of Incarceration on the Children and Families of Drug Offenders   (Citations: 7)
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Oklahomaís prison population is one of the largest per capita in the country, and its female per capita incarceration rate is the highest in the nation. Drug offenders are the biggest portion of offenders incarcerated in Oklahomaís prisons, particularly among females. Policymakers are examining the wisdom of massive incarceration, and researchers have begun to document the unitended negative consequences of incarceration on the children and spouses of inmates. This study examines the consequences of incarceration for the families of drug offenders in Oklahoma from the offendersí perspectives. Researchers surveyed 124 male and 144 female inmates housed at minimum security and community correctional centers. The survey instrument contained questions on demographics, criminal record, drug usage, and inmate families, including placement of children, problems with children, and financial effects of incarceration on the family. Many of the devastating effects of incarceration found in other parts of the United States are apparent in Oklahoma. The study indicated that incarceration has had a negative impact on family structure and functioning, as well as on children. Incarceration damaged marital and parent-child relationships, caused economic hardships for families, and created many personal problems for children including drug and alcohol abuse, depression, bad grades, and expulsion from school. Furthermore, those effects differed by gender. The study clearly indicated a need to study inmatesí families in greater depth to gain a closer perspective on the unintended consequences of incarcerations on families of offenders. Corrections, 1996). The largest segment of nonviolent offenders incarcerated in Oklahoma is drug-related offenders. The study was an initial analysis of the effects of incarceration on the children and families of drug offenders from the inmateís perspective. We pay particular attention to gender differences and similarities in those effects. We will give a brief overview of the effects of incarceration on communities, families, and children, and then explore the findings of our study.
Published in 1998.
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