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Gatekeepers of Contact: Child-Caregiver Dyads and Parental Prison Visitation

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 43 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2016 Pages: 739-758
M. Tasca
Date Published
June 2016
20 pages
In advancing prior research, this study used data collected from structured interviews with prisoners in Arizona to determine whether inmates' children with grandmothers as caretakers (n = 684) and children with mothers (n = 300) as their caretakers would be more likely to visit mothers and fathers in prison compared to other child-caregiver dyads.
As gatekeepers, caregivers play a pivotal role in the facilitation of parental prison contact, and some caregivers may be more likely to take children to visit than others. As expected, the current study confirmed that children with grandmothers as caregivers and children with mothers as caregivers were more likely to visit their fathers and mothers in prison compared to inmates whose children had caregivers who were not their mothers or grandmothers. Logistic regression analyses determined this in both maternal and paternal models, independent of controls. Child situational factors, prisoner characteristics, stressors, and institutional barriers also predicted visits; although effects differed depending upon which parent was in prison. By providing insight into the maintenance of family ties during confinement, this study informs research and policy with respect to prison contact and reentry. 72 references (Publisher abstract modified)