Hard Data on Hard Times An Empirical Analysis of Maternal Incarceration, Foster Care, and Visitation


The rising incarceration rates among women have raised concerns in many quarters, including child welfare. This report shows, for the first time, how many children in foster care have mothers in jail or prison. While Vera researchers found that only a small percentage of the mothers of children in care are incarcerated for 30 days or more, the number of affected children is significant enough to justify programs that allow them to visit their mothers in jail or prison. The report also supports earlier research showing that the majority of women were incarcerated after their children were placed in care.


Photo by Lucy Nicholson (REUTERS)

People in Jail and Prison in Spring 2021

Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) researchers collected data on the number of people in local jails and state and federal prisons throughout 2020 and into spring 2021. Vera researchers estimated the incarcerated population using a sample of approximately 1,600 jail jurisdictions, 50 states, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service (U ...

  • Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagnet, Jasmine Heiss
June 07, 2021