Corrupt Corrections: Mass Incarceration and the Systematic Reproduction of Disadvantage Among Families




Robbins, Carolyn

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My research is concerned with the effects of mass incarceration on American families, particularly on families of color who live in impoverished neighborhoods. Incarceration in the United States is concentrated among low-income uneducated young Black men who live in urban areas. These trends are the result of institutional racism that has become deeply enmeshed in American culture in order to exercise control over Black bodies since the post-Civil War era. I examine the specific social effects families experience when fathers are incarcerated, when mothers are incarcerated, and when children are incarcerated. I also explore the gendered nature of these effects between parents and their children. I found that families suffer primarily economically when a father goes to prison, relationally when a mother goes to prison, and in both of these regards when a child goes to prison. Each scenario damages mental health, increases behavioral issues among children, and launches inmates and their children into a cycle of incarceration and recidivism that is all but impossible to exit.