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Community Engagement & Service

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Impact of Incarceration on Families

Because prisons rarely collect thorough data on family members of inmates, there is limited knowledge regarding characteristics of these family members and how the incarceration impacts their broader family circumstances. This project utilizes SC’s powerful, statewide integrated data system to examine impacts of incarceration in a novel way, tapping administrative data from corrections, juvenile justice, mental health, social services, substance use services, healthcare, and education.

Specifically, visitation data from approximately 1000 male and female, youthful and adult offenders will be linked to multi-agency administrative data to create a de-identified data “cube” representing service utilization for focal inmates and their family members including children, partners, and other family members. The data cube is technological tool that allows users to easily manipulate multi-agency data to answer queries and create visual displays through data tables and graphs. Inclusion of time as a variable in the cube (i.e. standardized pre-incarceration, incarceration, and post-release periods) will allow users to explore impacts of incarceration on service utilization and outcomes for families. 

Beyond development of the cube, we will also conduct targeted analyses on linked data sets to answer research questions regarding impact of incarceration on family physical and mental health, children’s involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, economic status, and school mobility and performance.

Supplemental focus groups and family interviews will include about 100 inmates and family members sampled through three correctional facilities. This qualitative data will enhance understanding of dynamics underlying impact of incarceration.

Findings have great potential for service coordination, policy development, and scientific understanding regarding impact of incarceration on families. Translation of research to state and national practice will be facilitated via a multi-agency board representing agency partners and state leaders in justice practice and policy. 

 

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