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Imprisoned Fathers and Their Family Relationships: A 40-Year Review From a Multi-Theory View


School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, 2073 JFSB Brigham Young University, Provo UT 84602 (


This article reviews the literature on family relationships of incarcerated fathers, examining the literature's topics, samples, and theories. Nineteen studies were identified that treated fatherhood as a primary construct, with 20 relating indirectly to fatherhood. Various theories were represented in the literature, yet with a general lack of studies theoretically building on one another. This article synthesizes the research and theoretical work, situating it in identity theory, family process theory, and ecological systems theory, thereby providing needed structure for advancing theoretical models. Situating the research thus provides a more comprehensive view of a father's incarceration and provides guidance to future research.