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Assessing mass incarceration’s effects on families
Science  (IF47.728),  Pub Date : 2021-10-15, DOI: 10.1126/science.abj7777
Hedwig Lee, Christopher Wildeman

In this Review, we assess how mass incarceration, a monumental American policy experiment, has affected families over the past five decades. We reach four conclusions. First, family member incarceration is now common for American families. Second, individuals who will eventually have a family member incarcerated are worse off than those who never will, even before the incarceration takes place. Third, family member incarceration has negative effects on families above and beyond these preexisting disadvantages. And finally, policy interventions that address the precursors to family member incarceration and seek to minimize family member incarceration would best enhance family well-being. If the goal is to help all American families thrive, then the importance of simultaneous changes in social and criminal justice policy cannot be overstated.