Family ties of African American parental incarceration on adolescents: Family service professionals’ perceptions
Research suggests that a myriad of factors contribute to juvenile incarceration including a history of parental incarceration. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore family service professionals’ perceptions of the relationship between African American parental incarceration and African American adolescent incarceration. This study also examined what resources and services are needed to reduce recidivism and prevent the intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Three research questions guided this study:
Q1. What are the perceptions of family service professionals regarding the relationship between African American parental incarceration and adolescents’ incarceration?
Q2. What resources are needed by African American families of adolescents who have been incarcerated to reduce recidivism and break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration?
Q3. What services are needed by African American families of adolescents who have been incarcerated to reduce recidivism and break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration?
Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory and Billingsley's African American Family Functioning Model were used as the theoretical frameworks for this study.
Ten family service professionals with experience working with juveniles and their families were included in this study. Demographic questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for relevant themes and concepts. Two overarching themes and seven subthemes were identified from the study. The first overarching theme identified macro factors influencing juvenile incarceration as viewed through the context of a systems lens. The second overarching theme identified micro factors influencing juvenile incarceration as viewed through the context of an individual lens. The participants discussed gaps and necessary resources and services needed to break the cycle of familial incarceration. Recommendations for future studies and implications for professionals working with incarcerated adolescents and families were discussed.