Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality

Publication Year



An unrelenting prison boom, marked by large racial disparities in the risk of incarceration, characterized the latter third of the 20th century. Drawing on broadly representative survey data and qualitative interviews, Children of the Prison Boom describes the devastating effects of America's experiment in mass incarceration for a generation of vulnerable children. Parental imprisonment has been transformed from an event affecting only the unluckiest of children—children of parents whose involvement in crime would have been quite serious—to one that is remarkably common, especially for black children. Even for children at high risk of problems, Children of the Prison Boom shows that paternal incarceration makes a bad situation worse and substantially increases family instability and racial inequality in child well-being.

Oxford University Press
Oxford, England