Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Prisoners' families-Effect of imprisonment on, Prisoners' families-Mental health, Secondary traumatic stress, Children of prisoners-Mental health, Children of prisoners-Effect of imprisonment on, Jail, Incarceration, Prison, Caregiver, Family, Children, Incarceration and families, Incarceration and children, Jail and children, Jail and families, Prison and families, Prison and children, Impact of incarceration, Impact of jails, Impact of prison on family, Vicarious incarceration, Secondary prisonization, Vicarious imprisonment, Vicarious trauma


When an individual goes to jail, family members are often left in the shadow of the incarceration.This qualitative research study contributes to the incarceration literature by focusing on caregivers’ experiences at county jails, and by suggesting the usage of the term vicarious incarceration to fully encompass the levels of impact that incarceration has on the family. Caregivers in the present study engaged in a semi-structured interview modeled after Megan Comfort’s (2009) examination of secondary prisonization at San Quentin. Findings indicate that caregivers visiting a county jail do experience secondary prisonization, both at the jail and within the home. However the emotional, physical, and financial toll that incarceration takes on the family has some notable differences from secondary prisonization, thus warranting a new term to describe the phenomenon: vicarious incarceration. The discussion contextualizes this finding through Ecological Theory and suggests implications for social work practice.




iii, 96 pages : color illustrations. Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-91)

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