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Abstract

This article analyzes census data on the increase in incarcerations among women, with specific emphasis on some racial differences. The steady rise in female incarcerations and its impact on grandmothers who are caregivers of their children is the focus of this analysis. The article includes sociodemographic and health characteristics of imprisoned mothers, a review of relevant research, the impact of incarcerations on family caregivers, and implications for research. The rate of female incarceration has increased by 11% per year since 1985. A disproportionally higher number are women of color. Approximately fifty-three percent of the children whose mothers are imprisoned are cared for by grandmothers. The rapid increase in the female incarceration rate suggests the need for additional research on the social, economic, and health impact of this phenomenon on family caregivers, especially grandmothers.

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