Incarcerated mothers of minor children (IMMC) study: Evaluating access to family programming through a gender lens
In 2007, 1.7 million minor children were the "hidden victims" of parental incarceration. Black non-Hispanic and Hispanic children are more likely than white non-Hispanic children to have a parent in prison. Some of the devastating effects of parental separation due to incarceration include psychosocial difficulties, child displacement, economic hardship, and delinquent behavior in minor children. As to parents of incarcerated children, those who fail to maintain contact with their children face a higher likelihood of recidivism. Parenting classes have been established within many correctional facilities as a means to maintain family bonds during incarceration. The current study collected national data from prison administrators and examined inmate data from a nationally representative dataset to identify parenting programming currently available in female-only prisons and determine what factors are statistically correlated with the likelihood of not using parenting classes. Findings suggest that mother and father inmates who experience a lack of contact with minor children, whether by telephone, mail or visitation are least likely to utilize parenting classes. Finally, the distance between prisons and inmates' families can create a barrier to telephone and visitation contact with minor children. The current study calls for an increase in transportation assistance programs to increase minor child contact and, subsequently, improve parenting class participation.