Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 123 pages) : 1 illustration.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Alissa Worden

Committee Members

Evelien Hoeben, David Hureau, Johnna Christian


Emerging adulthood, Life course theory, Parental incarceration, Children of prisoners, Prisoners' families, Prisoners

Subject Categories

Criminology | Sociology


Coupled with other disadvantages, parental incarceration negatively impacts outcomes for children. Researchers have examined the consequences of parental incarceration mainly for children and adolescents, but it remains unclear about the long-term consequences as these children emerge into adulthood. Parental incarceration can affect social relationships and life attainments, increase labeling and stigmatization, and influence perceptions about society for young adults. Thus, this research study sought to examine parental incarceration as a “turning point” in which life outcomes of young adults are weakened or strengthened through this experience. Semi-structured interviews with 19 young adults were conducted and analyzed to examine: (1) whether young adults interpret their experience of parental incarceration as a turning point in their lives related to four life domains (employment/education, intimate relationships, independent living, and parenthood), (2) whether young adults have been subjected to negative reactions from others due to parental incarceration, and (3) whether and in what ways the experience of parental incarceration has affected their perceptions toward the criminal justice system. The study not only adds to the growing body of research on the effects of parental incarceration, by providing additional insight to the existing theoretical framework of life course theory, but uses young adults’ narratives to address the nuanced dynamics that parental incarceration plays in emerging adulthood.

Included in

Criminology Commons