For incarcerated fathers, prison rather than work mediates access to their families. Prison rules and staff regulate phone privileges, access to writing materials, and visits. Perhaps even more important are the ways in which the penal system shapes men’s gender performances. Incarcerated men must negotiate how they will enact violence and aggression, both in terms of the expectations placed upon inmates by the prison system and in terms of their own responses to these expectations. Additionally, the relationships between incarcerated men and the mothers of their children change, particularly since women now serve as “gatekeepers” who control when and how they contact their children. This book considers how those within the prison system negotiate their expectations about “real” men and “good” fathers, how prisoners negotiate their relationships with those outside of prison, and in what ways this negotiation reflects their understanding of masculinity.
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