U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Young Fathers in Jail: Associations between Father Experiences, Father-Child Relationships, and Community Stability

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Dated: 2021
Date Published

This study describes the characteristics of a sample of 103 jailed fathers ages 18 to 25 years old, including two subsamples of participants who had the opportunity to recidivate (n = 83) and participants who completed a trauma history questionnaire (n = 62); and it explored associations between father experiences, father–child relationships, behavioral health factors, and recidivism.


Research on paternal incarceration has paid less attention to young fathers incarcerated in jail settings where most residents are either pretrial detained or serving out short sentences. Results of the current study indicate that jailed young fathers have several risk factors as well as strengths. Their father–child relationship is positively associated with training on fathering skills, employment experiences, and self-efficacy, and negatively associated with incarceration history. Employment is the only variable that identifies the differences in recidivism. Implications for a future research agenda are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021