Researchers have estimated that 63 percent of incarcerated women have one or more minor children and most reported living with their children prior to incarceration (Mumola, 2000). Unfortunately, children of incarcerated parents have been a relatively invisible population in the research on the collateral consequences of incarceration. The goal of the current study was to examine the long-term effect of maternal incarceration on adult offspring involvement in the criminal justice system using data from the mother child sample of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Based on existing research, it was hypothesized that the adult offspring of incarcerated mothers would be more likely to have been convicted of a crime or to be sentenced to probation. The effect of maternal incarceration on correlates of criminal behavior in adolescence and early adulthood (e.g., negative peer influences, positive home environment) was also modeled to assess possible indirect effects. The results highlighted the direct effect of incarceration on adult offspring involvement in the criminal justice system, but parental incarceration had little association with correlates of criminal behavior.
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