Prisoners' assessments of mental health problems among their children

Melinda Tasca, Jillian J. Turanovic, Clair White, Nancy Rodriguez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Scopus citations


    High rates of imprisonment among American men and women have motivated recent research on the well-being of children of incarcerated parents. Despite advances in the literature, little is known regarding the mental health status of children who experience maternal relative to paternal incarceration. Accordingly, we examine whether there are differences in mental health needs among children of incarcerated parents. Specifically, we assess whether incarcerated mothers are more likely than incarcerated fathers to report that their children suffer from mental health problems. Using cross-sectional data on children (N = 1,221) compiled from a sample of parents confined in the Arizona Department of Corrections, we find that children of incarcerated mothers are significantly more likely to be identified as suffering from mental health problems. This effect remained even after controlling for additional parent stressors and child risk factors such as exposure to violence, in utero exposure to drugs/alcohol, and parental mental illness. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)154-173
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 2014


    • children's mental health
    • parental incarceration

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Applied Psychology


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