Turney, K., & Wakefield, S. (2019). Criminal justice contact and inequality. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 5(1), 1-23. doi:10.7758/rsf.2019.5.1.01
The American incarceration rate, though recently stabilized, increased rapidly over the past half century. Today, compared with the 1970s, more than five times as many people spend time in prison annually (National Research Council 2014; Wakefield and Uggen 2010). The historically unprecedented incarceration rates have wide-ranging consequences for the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The confinement associated with incarceration disrupts employment and, on release, formerly incarcerated individuals face challenges to finding stable employment (Pager 2003; Western 2006). Incarceration also impairs relationships with parents and romantic partners (Comfort 2007), increases physical and mental health problems (Massoglia and Pridemore 2015), and reduces civic participation (Manza and Uggen 2006). Furthermore, perhaps unsurprisingly given the severe and often compounding difficulties encountered by individuals and their families during and after confinement, incarceration has intergenerational consequences. Children of incarcerated parents experience impairments in their educational, behavioral, and health outcomes (Foster and Hagan 2015; Murray, Farrington, and Sekol 2012).