The Jail & Family Life Study investigates the complex and countervailing ways that incarceration creates, maintains, and exacerbates inequalities among families and children. This ongoing data collection effort includes longitudinal ethnographic and in-depth interview data with more than 120 families in Southern California. We first conduct in-depth interviews with fathers who are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to one of three jail facilities. We then, as soon as possible after the father’s interview, interview their children, the mothers or caregivers of their children, and other important adults in their lives and their children’s lives. Fathers and family members are also interviewed after release and during periods of re-incarceration. The longitudinal component allows us to capture both incapacitation effects (e.g., during incarceration) and re-entry effects (e.g., after incarceration) for families and children. This project will provide a comprehensive portrait of how jail incarceration affects family life and will inform the development of effective policy and practice interventions.
The Jail & Family Life Study would not be possible without financial support from the National Science Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the School of Social Sciences at the University of California-Irvine; access and administrative support from the Sheriff’s Department; and the men, women, and children who have shared their life experiences with us.