College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Impact of Family Contact During Incarceration on Post-release Functioning: An Exploration of Explanatory Mechanisms and Group Differences

Johanna Folk

Major Professor: June P Tangney, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Jeff Stuewig, Leah Adams, Jerome Short

David King Hall, #2013
April 27, 2017, 11:00 AM to 08:00 AM


Within a longitudinal framework, the current studies examine mechanisms (i.e., family connectedness, post-release planning) by which contact with family during incarceration impacts post-release functioning (i.e., recidivism, substance misuse, mental illness, community functioning). Study 1 included 507 general population jail inmates, some of whom were eventually transferred to prison. Structural equation modeling results demonstrated having more frequent contact with family during incarceration predicts increases in family connectedness, which in turn predicts better mental health during the first year post-release. Although not related to frequency of contact, making plans for post-release predicted adaptive community functioning during the first year post-release. There were no differences in the overall model based on type of contact or incarceration in a jail vs. prison setting. Study 2 included 244 incarcerated parents from the same longitudinal sample as Study 1. Structural equation modeling demonstrated family connectedness at the onset of incarceration predicts more frequent contact with adult and child family, but contact does not predict increased family connectedness. Contact with adult, but not child, family was a marginally significant predictor of post-release planning, which in turn predicted adaptive community functioning during the first year post-release. Effects were largely consistent across contact types.

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