Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Shared Awareness

As I was reading a classmate's blog, I found coincidently that we shared a similar interest not only in our desired field of profession, but also in our topic. I am glad to see that there is more individuals that are aware of the dire states of our judicial systems. It is necessary that "our criminal justice system [...] be reformed and more funding [...] be allocated to rehabilitation and inmate treatment programs" (. I hope that through our work and others similar to ours will help reduce the number of those who walk through the revolving door of our criminal justice system.

Personal Interest

The reason why I chose to write on this topic of incarcerated men is because I strongly feel that our justice system is unfair, and instead of "rehabilitating" these men, they target and punish them. I feel that the laws that sentence individuals maintains inequality that perpetuates the cycle of criminal behavior. I don't know if I bring a unique perspective to this topic, but I hope to add awareness.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Sources So Far

Dyer, WM. Justin., “Prison, Fathers, and Identity: A Theory of How Incarceration Affects Men’s Paternal Identity.” Fathering 3.3 (Fall 2005): 201-219.

In this article, WM. Justin Dyer, professor at University of Illinois, uses an identity theory to explore how incarceration affects the manner in which a male convict views himself. The Identity theory proposed by P.J. Burke in 1991 explains psychological processes of forming an identity, and how identity maintenance responds to changes in the individual’s environment. Dyer’s use of this theory conceptualize how the interruption caused by imprisonment affects the male’s identity as a father, and thus his relationship with his family. The author illustrates how the convict’s self-concept as a father is questioned due to the sociological barriers implemented by incarceration and stigma. This conflict between identities is created by the discrepancy of viewing oneself as a good father and society’s view that a convicted male cannot be a good father. This dissonance often means that the male will abandon his identity as a father, which negatively affects the family. While Dyer’s use of the theory does help to address the negative effects of imprisonment on the convicted males and their family, it does not account for those males that have been documented in actively pursuing a relationship with their family. It leads me to explore whether convicted males’ paternal identity abandonment also means an abandonment of the desire to reenter the family structure.

Rose, Dina A., and Todd R. Clear. “Incarceration, Social Capital, and Crime: Implications for Social Disorganization Theory.” Criminology 36.3 (Aug 1998): 441-480.

Author Dina A. Rose, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, provides a theoretical argument to explain how social controls can be detrimental to communities and families. Rose argues that the use of imprisonment as a means of controlling society’s ills hinders the roles of families as a source of rehabilitation. She also suggests that the long incarceration of males leads to dissolution of the family structure. She describes in the ways in which the families of convicts are affected, socially and financially. She explores theories such as the systematic model of social control, and uses it to support her notion that community programs that involve the families of convicts are needed in order to rebuild. Rose’s article will be very helpful to illustrate how incarceration may not be the best source of treatment and instead is detrimental; however, it does not address the fathers and their perspectives. I think it is necessary to incorporate the males and how they participate in the reformation of the family. Rose’s article is exceptional by providing a new aspect of how families networks are a source of rehabilitation for convicts, but it is too narrow because it focuses mainly on broad sociological concepts of families. In order to better understand how the affects of conviction of fathers complicate the family structure, I need to examine the father’s activities and perspectives.

Zealand, Elise. “Protecting the Ties that Bind from Behind Bars: A Call for Opportunities for Incarcerated Fathers and Their Children to Maintain the Parent-Child Relationship” Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems (Winter 1998): 247-281.

In an article by Elise Zealand, a writing and research editor for the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, she describes the disenfranchisement that convicted fathers face during incarceration and after. She provides case studies that illustrate that many fathers’ rights are dissolved due to the stigma of being a bad father. This shows that instead of helping the male to rebuild his life and his family, the justice system hinders it. She provides case studies that illustrate how that stigma makes the reentry of father into the children’s lives almost impossible by imposing restrictions that causes an unnatural environment for the parent and child. Zealand’s article will be significant to understand the biasness that convicted fathers face that impede the restructuring process. It also is helpful because it illustrates that many of these fathers are active in reentering their children’s lives. However, since she uses case studies it may not be accurate enough be used as strong evidence, and rather just useful for support to other arguments.

Liedka, Raymond V., Anne M. Piehl., and Bert Useem. “The Crime-Control Effect of Incarceration: Does Scale Matter?” Criminology and Public Policy 5.2 (May 2006): 245-275.

Raymond Liedka, a professor at Oakland University, did a study that examined the affects of incarceration on recidivism. He used data from the last 30 years and found that incarceration does not have a significant affect on reducing recidivism. He finds that as incarceration increases so does the rate of repeated offenses. This is important to my research paper because it suggests a cycle of imprisonment, which means that the length of time fathers spend away from their families is prolonged. It raises the question, how does this prolonged lack of involvement affect the family structure? Does longer confinement mean more problems for the family structure? I believe it does, and I will use other sources to support that. Liedka’s article helps to frame how incarceration as rehabilitation needs to be rethought, since it just increases the time apart from the family members and impairs the family structure. It helps to show that incarceration is ineffective for the individual and the family.

Edin, Kathryn., Timothy J Nelson., and Rechelle Paranal. “Fatherhood and Incarceration as Potential Turning Points in the Criminal Careers of Unskilled Men.” Institute for Policy Research Northwestern University. 5 May 2001. .

Kathryn Edin, who is a professor of sociology at Northwestern University, along with a team, conducted a study in which she interviewed over 200 non-custodial fathers who have engaged in criminal activity throughout their lives. They all reported that incarceration has had a profound affect on their relationships with their children and families. Edin found that those who maintained or reconnected with their children had a turning point in their lives. Her studies suggest that men who had a relationship with their families benefit from it, as well as their children. Their involvement in criminal behavior decreases significantly. This is important to my research because it supports Dina Rose’s argument that familial and community support is the best source of rehabilitation. It shows there is a reciprocal beneficiary relationship between convicted fathers and families. It leads me to wonder what are the ways in which fathers can strengthen and rebuild their relationships with their families after imprisonment? This is a question that is needs to be asked, as it is the necessary step towards recuperation.

Lee, Arlene F. “Children of Inmates: What Happens to the Unintended Victims?” Corrections Today (June 2005): 90-95.

Arlene Lee documents and explores the lives of children of convicted parents. She provides case studies, which exemplifies the negative effects of incarceration on the family. She discusses how incarceration does not provide parents with the skills to rebuild the ties that are often torn while away. She also describes the psychological affects of the stigma of having a convicted parent, which often contributes to juvenile delinquency. She suggests that once parents return from prison they need to reestablish their role as a parent. While Lee’s article examines the lives of these children, which is necessary to understand the full realm of those affected by imprisonment, it does not go into great detail of how reentry of fathers can alleviate the negative stigma of imprisonment that is detrimental to children’s psyche. Does the father’s reentry help to decrease the provocation of juvenile delinquency? While this will not be discussed in my paper, it is an interesting topic to be explored that is also necessary.

Austin, James, and Patricia L. Hardyman. “The Risks and Needs of the Returning Prisoner Population.” Prisons to Home Conference 30-31 January 2002 < >

James Austin, a co-director of the Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections at the George Washington University, and Patricia Hardyman, a senior associate at the Criminal Justice Institute in Washington, D.C., describe some of the concerns of the release of convicts. They describe society’s presumption that holding criminals in prison for prolonged time increases the well being of society and helps the criminals. As many of the other sources have already addressed, incarceration does not lower rates of recidivism nor is it effective at correcting society. Austin and Hardyman target many of the concerns of society and the prison system, and assess these risks. I will also tackle some of these topics and provide counter arguments with the use of the other sources I’ve mentioned. This article will be useful in broadening my topic while strengthening it, by examining the other perspectives of incarceration as rehabilitation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Possible Influence on Future Aspirations

Hi everyone,
I just want to expand on this topic's significance. As you may have noticed, I am a Psychology major and minor in forensics and criminality, the combination of which will hopefully help me with my desire of a career in Forensic Psychology. I believe a topic like the one I am researching is important because I want to see a end of this cycle of incarceration and the very larger context of inequality. While I know that this will probably not happen in my lifetime or soon after, I am hoping that research similar to this will make a difference.

Also, it will be helpful to me, as an individual in this field to understand the functions of the family and its affect on the individual. This is in order to better treat and work with these individuals.

I hope this helps for you to understand me and my motives a little better.