All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Heith Copes

Advisory Committee Members

Kathryn Morgan

Jeffrey Clair

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

The female prison population is the fastest growing prison population in the United States. The rise in female incarceration over the past several years has become a growing concern partly due to the damaging effects on the family; a phenomenon largely attributed to mandatory sentencing guidelines and gender-neutral policies. Research literature on the unique challenges faced by parenting women and the development of reentry programs that foster family reunification has emerged in recent years, but there is still much work to be done. Using in-depth interviews with 14 residents of a transitional center for women in Alabama, I seek to explore the effects of incarceration on parenting women. Specifically, I plan to identify the challenges these mothers face during and after incarceration and ways in which they overcome those challenges in an attempt to become better mothers. I also sought to assess how transitional programs with an emphasis on family reunification aid in a mother's transition from prison and helps her to reestablish her relationship with her children. This work contributes to the literature on the damaging effects incarceration has on mothers and presents data that supports reform of policies that are both outdated and gender-specific. The findings in this study are consistent with theoretical research on female offender reentry that identifies the role of family relationships in recidivism prevention. The most compelling finding in the study is that many incarcerated women are striving to overcome a multitude of challenges in a criminal justice system that does not foster family reunification.

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