Families and Children: A Study of Men in Prison.

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Hairston, C. F.
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This report discusses the findings of a study that investigated the family characteristics, parent-child relationships, and parenting views and needs of incarcerated males. The study population consisted of men incarcerated at the Tennessee State Penitentiary (n=92), a maximum security facility, and the Nashville Community Services Center (n=34), a minimum security facility. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire that focused on background data and information regarding the current prison term, the inmate's family relationships, parent-child relationships and parenting concerns, and service needs and issues for incarcerated parents. Results indicate participants were primarily unmarried fathers under 40 who were serving long prison terms. About one-half had not completed high school prior to coming to prison and most had not participated in any educational or job training program since entering prison. Most minor children of the incarcerated fathers currently live with their mothers and 42% of the men worried that their children lack guidance and/or supervision. One-fourth of fathers had not been in touch by phone or letter with their children during the past six months and one-fifth had been in touch only once or twice using their method. In addition, 70% of the men have been visited by their children since they have been in prison but less than one-half were visited by children in the six months preceding the survey. Finally, the men saw organizations such as Parents in Prison as needed and desirable and indicated that organizations should work to improve opportunities for incarcerated fathers and children to spend time together. Program, policy, and research implications are discussed. 26 references.
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