• Journal Article

Consequences of Family Member Incarceration: Impacts on Civic Participation and Perceptions of the Legitimacy and Fairness of Government

Citation

Lee, H., Porter, L. C., & Comfort, M. (2014). Consequences of Family Member Incarceration: Impacts on Civic Participation and Perceptions of the Legitimacy and Fairness of Government. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 651(1), 44-73. DOI: 10.1177/0002716213502920

Abstract

Political participation and citizens' perceptions of the legitimacy and fairness of government are central components of democracy. In this article, we examine one possible threat to these markers of a just political system: family member incarceration. We offer a unique glimpse into the broader social consequences of punishment that are brought on by a partner's or parent's incarceration. We argue that the criminal justice system serves as an important institution for political socialization for the families of those imprisoned, affecting their attitudes and orientations toward the government and their will and capacity to become involved in political life. We draw from ethnographic data collected by one of the authors, quantitative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and interviews with recently released male prisoners and their female partners. Our findings suggest that experiences of a family member's incarceration complicate perceptions of government legitimacy and fairness and serve as a barrier to civic participation