High rates of incarceration in the United States have motivated a far-reaching literature examining the effects of parental incarceration on child wellbeing. Although a growing body of evidence documents challenges facing the children of incarcerated men, most incarcerated fathers lived apart from their children before their arrest, raising the question of whether they were sufficiently involved with their families for their incarceration to affect their children. We use the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=4,071) to examine father involvement among incarcerated fathers, both newly incarcerated and incarcerated in the more distant past. We find that many incarcerated fathers maintained a degree of contact with their children, through visitation if not coresidence. Moreover, we find robust reductions in both father-child coresidence and visitation when fathers are incarcerated. Our findings suggest that these reductions in contact are driven by a combination of incapacitation while incarcerated, and union dissolution upon release. (Author abstract)
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