About the Family Life Behind Bars Project

This project examines the impact on family relations and dynamics when one or more member of a family is incarcerated. How do some families overcome the separation, financial strain, social stigma and guilt while others crumble? Why is there a greater likelihood that a child of someone who is in prison will also end up in jail at some point? How do society, politics or special interests help or hinder family relations? For example, many states currently allow telephone companies to penalize inmates and their families by charging a staggering connection surcharge (about $3) and higher per minute rates (upto 16 cents) for collect phone calls–—a regressive toll in an age of unlimited local and long distance calling. This at a time when research and experience shows that inmates who stay in touch with their families are likelier to have a smooth transition back to civil society when released.

How do such obstacles impact the relationship between a parent and child (both the parent who remains at home and the one in prison)? Between husband and wife? Between siblings? How are family relations re-established when a prisoner is released? What are the unforeseen consequences of being released? What efforts do inmates make to stay in touch from within prison walls? Lives in Focus is NOT questioning the guilty verdict that sent people to prison. We also recognize that many crimes upset the lives of others–in extreme cases even depriving families of their own loved ones. Lives in Focus believes, however, that it is important to document and be aware of the repercussions that imprisonment has on an inmate’s family, a large and growing population in America.

Who is behind this project?


About the Author

Sandeep Junnarkar is the founder and editorial director of Family Lives Behind Bars.