The Long Reach of Parental Incarceration: The Case of Institutional Engagement

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Vast surveillance, especially of those with criminal justice contact, is a key feature of contemporary societies. As a consequence of this surveillance, formerly incarcerated individuals both avoid and are excluded from institutions, and this dampened institutional engagement may extend to offspring of the incarcerated. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, we examine the relationship between parental incarceration and young adult institutional engagement in different settings, including financial institutions, medical institutions, school and work, volunteer organizations, and religious institutions. We find parental incarceration is associated with diminished institutional engagement in young adulthood. This association is partially explained by reduced parental institutional engagement during adolescence in addition to young adult's impaired health, lack of trust in government, and criminal justice contact. Our findings highlight a subtle and pervasive way that parental incarceration influences the transition to adulthood.

Lanuza, Yader, and Kristin Turney. 2020. “The Long Reach of Parental Incarceration: The Case of Institutional Engagement.” Social Science Research 92(11):102485.