Fatherhood Arrested: Parenting From Within the Juvenile Justice System.

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Author (Individual)
Nurse, A. M.
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Tougher penalties for juvenile offenders and the disproportionate imprisonment of African American and Latino young men have resulted in an increase in the number of incarcerated fathers. Approximately one-quarter of all young men sentenced to juvenile facilities in California are fathers, a trend that has serious implications for the families of the men and society as incarceration reduces family income and interferes in a father's ability to provide emotional support to his children and their mother. This study examined the issues of fathering from prison, young fathers as parolees, and the impact of imprisonment on later father involvement through observation of parenting classes for paroled fathers, surveys of paroled fathers, in-depth interviews with paroled fathers, and participant observation during prison visiting hours. The findings revealed that visiting policies for juvenile detention facilities are more restrictive than those for adult prisons. Although the policies are necessary for security and punishment, they provide obstacles to contact between fathers and their children. Transportation, visitors' lists, dress codes, and placement policies interfere in family relationships. Other barriers are related to the fathers' coping responses to the prison environment and their feelings of shame. After release from prison, men have trouble establishing relationships with their children as they find that their children do not recognize them or that the mothers of their children have new partners. In addition, the ability of parolees to support their family financially is affected by the limited employment options available to former offenders. The study recommends several policies that will nurture the relationships between incarcerated fathers and their children, such as providing parenting classes in prison, facilitating visits from children, establishing child-friendly visiting hours, placing fathers in a separate area within the prison so they can form support networks, and strengthening fathers' legal rights. 3 tables.

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