CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

In the 2000s, penal policy sought to maintain family ties, considered an essential condition for inmates’ reintegration and the prevention of recidivism. Inmates’ parenthood could then be seen by detention centres as a resource. Clear differences however emerged between detained mothers and fathers, with incarcerated fathers being perceived as “defective”. In the course of two qualitative studies in two detention centres and three pre-trial holding facilities (2012-2016 and 2018), 150 interviews were carried out with 70 fathers, 25 interviews with prison administration officers, to which can be added 4 interviews with external workers, volunteers and a mother as well as the observation of four programmes aimed at supporting parenting. This article focuses on the stigma of incarcerated fatherhood. Based on the idea that “good” fathers cannot be imprisoned and that their children must be protected from this institution, as well as the stigma associated with their incarcerated fathers. This stigma is revealed by fathers’ and professionals’ discourses, and their interactions –either observed or described– in interviews. These social actors perform in different ways under this context of double domination (institutional and social) where the normative imposition is particularly strong and where the status of prisoner takes precedence over that of father. These discourses and practices help to shape the stigma of incarcerated fatherhood, working to reinforce it, circumvent it, or even elude it.

  • Incarcerated fatherhood
  • stigma
  • master status
  • social norms
  • social intervention
  • fatherhood support
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