Spotlight on FFCWS and Incarceration Research

June 11, 2020

Recent publications using the Future of Families & Child Wellbeing data provide a family-wide view of the effects of parental incarceration on child behavior, family dynamics and and child support, as well as the effects of police contact on child health.

Recent publications

Michael McFarland, Amanda Geller, and Cheryl McFarland investigated the effects of police interactions, particularly those perceived to be unjust, on health. Their results showed associations between reported personal or vicarious police stops and worse self-reported health in adolescence, exacerbated by reports of procedurally unjust stops. These associations were stronger among black and Hispanic adolescents than white ones. 

Jacobsen extended the life-course theory of cumulative disadvantage to focus on continuity in punishment across generations. He found evidence of an intergenerational stability of punishment using measures of incarceration and discipline in school through suspension or explusion.

Allison Dwyer Emory et al. examined the implications of incarceration on the ability for fathers to support their children, using FFCWS and state policy data. They found that parental incarceration reduces formal and informal support and that some policies offset the incarceration penalty, but clear differences by fathers’ race emerge.

McLanahan and Jacobsen drafted a chapter on families and children for the National Academy of Sciences Report on "The Growth of Incarceration: Causes and Consequences".

Kristin Turney and Christopher Wildeman researched the effects of maternal incarceration on three broad aspects of family life: romantic relationships, parenting, and economic wellbeing. 


McFarland, Michael, Geller, Amanda and McFarland, Cheryl. (2019). Police contact and health among urban adolescents: The role of perceived injustice.   Social Sdcience and Medicine. 238 (1): 

Jacobsen, Wade. (2019). The Intergenerational Stability of Punishment: Paternal Incarceration and Suspension or Expulsion in Elementary School. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. 56 (5): 651-693.

Dwyer Emory, Allison, Nepomnyaschy, Lenna, Miller, Daniel, Waller, Maureen and Haralampoudis, Alexandra. (2020). Providing After Prison: Nonresident Fathers’ Formal and Informal Contributions to Children. The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences. 6 (1): 84-112.

National Research Council. 2014. The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Turney, Kristin and Wildeman, Christopher. (2018). Maternal Incarceration and the Transformation of Urban Family Life. Social Forces. 96 (3): 1155-1182.