An Examination of Maternal Incarceration


How many incarcerated women are mothers? Corrections and rehabilitation departments currently do not systematically or reliably collect information on the parental status of incarcerated individuals, so establishing this number is challenging. It can be done, however, by linking incarceration records to birth records.

To explore this further, records for all women in California’s state prison system between 2010 and 2012 were probabilistically linked to vital birth records dating back to 1999. Linkages were based on a combination of personal identifiers common to both files. After linkages were completed, all data were de-identified for analysis. Analyses sought to establish how the subpopulation of incarcerated mothers compared to non-mothers in terms of offenses committed, age of incarceration, length of incarceration, and (for our maternal group) the timing of birth relative to incarceration. χ² tests were used to examine bivariate group differences. Multivariable generalized linear models will be specified to better understand factors contributing to incarceration for violent offenses among mothers.

Overview of Findings

Analysis in progress.



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  • FirstName LastName, PhD
  • FirstName LastName, PhD
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