Academic Publications

The Forgotten: The Impact of Parental and Familial Incarceration on Fragile Communities

Jennifer Wyatt Bourgeois | Jasmine Drake | Howard Henderson


The chapter reviews research on the impacts of parental, familial, and sibling incarceration, particularly in disadvantaged communities. It also provides historical context about family separation during slavery. It argues for more localized, culturally responsive research focusing on resilience, and policy reforms like alternatives to incarceration to reduce family separation harms.

Key Takeaways

  • Parental incarceration negatively affects children’s health, education, and risk of justice system involvement.
  • Familial incarceration also has adverse effects, with high rates especially for Black families.
  • Sibling incarceration is understudied but appears to be the most common type of family member incarceration.
  • More interdisciplinary, culturally responsive, and localized research is needed, focusing on resilience.
  • Policy reforms like alternatives to incarceration can help reduce harms to families and communities.