The incarceration rate in the United States is the highest in the world, with over two million people behind bars. The reach and impact of this on American families is not well understood. Christopher Wildeman, Policy Analysis and Management Professor and Associate Professor of Sociology by Courtesy, is leading a team of Cornell researchers to optimize data collection to better understand exactly how deep and wide the spread of incarceration is in American families. The team is using a novel set of questions around family history of incarceration that they will develop over the 18 months they have to complete the work. The team includes Assistant Professor of Sociology and CSI affiliate Anna Haskins, Peter K. Enns, Associate Professor of Government, and Maria D. Fitzpatrick of Policy Analysis and Management.
The goals of the project are to design and implement a complex survey in order to produce estimates—four state-level and one national—of the share of the population with a history of family incarceration in the United States. Arizona, Mississippi, New York, and Oklahoma are the team’s target states. Each is unique in its patterns of incarceration and racial and ethnic disparities in incarceration.