Prison Reform: Advocating for Parental Rights of Incarcerated Fathers

Introduction – Statement of the Problem:
The U.S. prison population is the largest of any nation in the world in relation to
its overall population, and is substantially over-represented by race in proportion to the
non-incarcerated community.Single-parent families headed by a mother without
substantial assistance from the father vastly outnumber two-parent households in much of
urban American society, which is an established contributing factor in the relative
likelihood of criminal behavior among children (Macionis 2002).
Furthermore, modern criminologists have determined that the relative explosion
in urban gang affiliation among teenagers is attributable, in no small part, to the absence
of paternal guidance Gerrig & Zimbardo 2005) and that incarcerated fathers constitute
role-modeling circumstances that only contribute negatively to children, by perpetuating
the "normalization" of incarceration as a rite of passage in many impoverished
communities (Pinizzotto 2007 ).As a result, a repetitive cycle has developed whereby
fatherless youths, already predisposed to higher incidence of criminal inclination, become
more vulnerable to gang recruitment at an earlier and early age, end up incarcerated
Undoubtedly, education is profoundly related to the course of one's life, and even
among the incarcerated population, successful participation in voluntary educational
opportunities corresponds to much lower recidivism rates and to greater post-
incarceration vocational success (Schmalleger 1997).Again, in this respect,
incarceration of the father directly corresponds to lower educational performance and
dramatically reduces the likelihood of their children pursuing advanced education
compared to children whose fathers are not incarcerated (Macionis 2002). Finally,
prisoner conduct and cooperation is always a primary concern within correctional

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