With 2.2 million people in prisons or jails, the U.S. is the global leader in incarceration rates. A majority of these individuals are parents to children under 18 (Geller et al., 2009; Harrison & Beck, 2005; The Sentencing Project, 2012). African-Americans are more likely to experience parental incarceration than European-Americans (Glaze & Maruschak, 2010). The alarming growth rate of incarcerated parents raises concerns about the consequences of parental incarceration for children, which may include aggression and delinquency (Aaron & Dallaire, 2010; Lee, Fang, & Luo, 2013; Masilla, Lanaville, & Jacquin, 2014). The current research filled gaps in the literature by examining the association between parental incarceration and offspring incarceration in African-American and European-American young adults.
Participants (n = 741) were aged 18 to 25 years (60% female, 40% male; 77% European-American, 23% African-American). Participants completed an anonymous online survey. The IV was parental incarceration during the participants’ childhood. The DV was participants’ self-report of their own incarceration.
Thirteen percent reported parental incarceration during childhood. Parental incarceration was significantly more prevalent among African-American participants (28.8% reported parental incarceration) than European-American participants (9.2%), Χ2(1, 738) = 42.85, p < .0001. Despite this, African-American participants (3.5%) were no more likely than European-American participants (3.7%) to personally experience incarceration, Χ2(1, 741) < 1, p = .89.
Self-incarceration was significantly more common among participants with a history of parental incarceration, Χ2(1, 785) = 8.83, p = .003. Specifically, 8.6% of participants who reported parental incarceration also have been incarcerated, whereas only 2.8% of individuals who reported no parental incarceration have personally experienced incarceration. The same result was found when African-American, Χ2(1, 170) = 4.34, p = .037, and European-American, Χ2(1, 568) = 5.63, p = .018, participants were analyzed separately. Complete results, including results pertaining to participant gender and the parent who was incarcerated, will be presented in the poster.
African-American young adults were significantly more likely than European-American young adults to experience parental incarceration during childhood. Despite the difference, European-Americans and African-Americans young adults were equally likely to experience self-incarceration. For both groups, parental incarceration predicts offspring incarceration. Prevention efforts should be aimed at children of incarcerated parents to minimize offspring incarceration.