Children of Incarcerated Women and the Recidivism


Records show that there is about 2.0 million children in the United States whose parents are in prison. According to Marsh 321 in 2007 about 10 million youths in the country had one of their parents being imprisoned at some point in their lives. Analysis of data between 1995 and 2006 reveals that the number of women put behind bars increased by 23% standing at 57.0% from 34.0% in 1995. It is worth noting that over a half (52.0%) of those in prison are parents while 75.0% of women in prison are mothers (Marsh 252). Additionally when considering the age of their children, majority of them are of tender age. For this reason they are directly affected by the fact that their mothers are in prison. The essay is an examination of children of incarcerated women and the recidivism rate of incarcerated women based on two main theories, differential-association theory and labeling theory.

Differential-association theory

According to Williams & Marilyn 34 this theory was developed by Sutherland Edwin and holds that the environment in which one lives in plays a significant role in dictating which . Thus the people one lives with or closely associate with influences the way that individual will see the world. It is a fact that , beliefs and culture from such as parents, teachers, siblings, relatives, friends among others. For this reason individuals learn deviant behaviors from people with whom they closely interact with (Marsh 124). For women who are imprisoned, it is evident that they will interact with other criminals. Although the aim of placing them behind bars is to help them reform, research has shown that once they are released, there are higher chances of these women to engage in more serious crimes. On the other hand, since the child will interact with his or her mother when released or interact with other members of the society who show deviant behaviors there are high chances that they will engage in criminal activities. For instance children of are 10 times more likely to engage in criminal activities if their mothers were imprisoned while Hispanic are 3 times more likely to be deviant (Marsh 89).

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Labeling theory

This theory explains that deviance is present in the society as a result of labeling. Usually people derive meaning from one another, symbols, actions as well as reactions (Williams & Marilyn 67). Members in the society who are deemed influential and powerful are the ones who give labels to others for instance an individual or a group of people may be labeled prostitutes, alcoholic, drug addicts among others. Once this has entered into the minds of the public, even in situations where an individual portrays contrary behaviours he or she will still be referred by the initial label. In this case, children of imprisoned mothers will be called names by their colleagues, neighbors and other members of the society based on what their mothers were accused of (Adler 211). Ones this enter their mind, they obviously suffer from mental problems and even if their behaviors are contrary to those of their mothers, the public will continue using the label. This coupled with the difficulties they undergo for instance lack of love, basic needs among others make them deviant. However it is worth noting that not all children of incarcerated women will turn deviant. On the same note, the theory explains why most of the women who have spent their time in prison are more likely to re-offend (Williams & Marilyn 87).

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