Incarceration and the Family: A Review of Research and Promising Approaches for Serving Fathers and Families. 2.2 Parenting


The average incarcerated father has 2.1 children. Their parenting relationships are often complex, with some men having children with multiple partners. Forty-two percent of state prisoners reported living with one or more of their minor children in the period immediately prior to their incarceration (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008).

  • The average age of children with an incarcerated parent is 8 years old (Mumola, 2000).
  • Most incarcerated fathers (88%) report that at least one of their children is in the care of the child’s other parent, compared to 37% of mothers (Glaze and Maruschak, 2008).
  • Of children with an incarcerated father, 12% live with a grandparent or other relative and 4% live in foster care or with a non-family member (Johnson, 2006).

Exhibit 2-2 shows the percentage of children of incarcerated fathers, by age.

Age Age Breakdown of Children
with Father in Prison
Exhibit 2-2.
Age Breakdown of Children
with Fathers in Prison
Less than 1 year 2.1%
1–4 years 20.4%
5–9 years 35.1%
10–14 years 28.0%
15–17 years 14.5%
Source: Mumola, C. (2000). Incarcerated parents and children.
Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report.
Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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