Parental imprisonment and boys' development and mental health

As prison populations reach unprecedented levels in Britain and in many other countries worldwide, many children of prisoners possibly suffer profound consequences. A new study  at Cambridge University will investigate whether the experience of parental imprisonment might cause delinquency and mental health problems for children, and will consider how these problems could potentially be prevented.

The research will use information collected on over 1,000 boys and their parents for the last twenty years, in the United States. It will provide critical new evidence on how child adjustment after parental imprisonment can be understood and what might help children through this often traumatising time.

Findings from this study will be compared with results from England, Sweden, and Holland to try to identify the best policies and practices for supporting children of prisoners. Results will be disseminated to key government departments and voluntary sector organisations working with children of prisoners.

Project details



Dr Joseph Murray, University of Cambridge

Grant amount and start date:


1 December 2009