Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Stahlman, Judy

Subject Headings

Women prisoners, Children of women prisoners, Maternal incarceration, Effects of maternal incarceration, Children with an incarcerated mother


The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that women continue to be incarcerated at record numbers. The majority of these women are mothers to children under the age of 18. Consequently more and more children are being negatively effected as a result of this forced separation from their mothers. The research on children with an incarcerated mother documents the adverse impact on the well-being of the children left behind. The children experience a range of difficulties including emotional and psychological difficulties, educational problems and behavioral difficulties. Children who have a mother in prison or jail have been labeled as among the riskiest of the high risk children in our nation. Despite these documented harms there are limited studies on how children of incarcerated mothers suffer. Five previously incarcerated mothers participated in individual interviews designed to obtain their perspectives about any social, emotional, behavioral and/or educational difficulties their children experienced during their term of incarceration. The mothers were also asked to report their perceptions of any social, emotional, behavioral and/or educational difficulties their children experienced upon reunification. Additionally, the mothers discussed what types of assistance could have been beneficial to their children in experiencing fewer problems. This social problem is important to study because it has serious ramifications for an entire generation of children. It will also help to shed light on the problem of increased incarceration of women and will give voice to their plight as well as the plight of their children. Results of the study supported the assumption that previously incarcerated mothers would report that their children experienced a range of difficulties including social, emotional, behavioral and educational difficulties both during the time the mother was incarcerated and upon reunification with the mother. The results also indicate that mothers believe that their children could benefit f

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