Impact of maternal incarceration on young adult dependents

  1. Crime Prevention
  2. Gender and Crime
  3. Incarceration
  4. Juvenile Justice
  5. Race and Inequality

Key Findings

  • Young adults whose mothers had served time in prison were more than twice as likely to have an adult arrest, an adult conviction, and an adult incarceration during their lifetime.
  • This same population had significantly greater rates of delinquency, lower levels of self-control, and less parental supervision overall than those who did not experience maternal incarceration.
  • Young adults whose mothers served time in person were three times more likely to report maternal absence and half as likely to graduate from college.


In the article, “Impact of Maternal Incarceration on the Criminal Justice Involvement of Adult Offspring: A Research Note,” Armstrong examined the extent to which maternal incarceration has an impact on dependents’ likelihood of entering into the criminal justice system as adults. The study examined two primary populations of young adults – those who had experienced maternal incarceration and those who had not – and found that the absence of mothers significantly increased the likelihood that offspring are actively involved with the criminal justice system in the future. The study noted that children with a history of maternal incarceration are an extremely vulnerable population who experience numerous adverse outcomes. The authors further highlighted that as nonviolent female offender incarceration rates continue to rise, the pattern of criminal behavior is perpetuated in their future generations as an unintended consequence.

View full research

Related Posts

Get the Latest Research from the Experts