Theses Doctoral

The Collateral Consequence of the War on Drugs: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Experience of Daughters Who Experienced Paternal Incarceration as a Result of the War on Drugs

Clayton, Karima A.

The purpose of the current study was to examine the lived experience of adult daughters whom had fathers incarcerated when they were in middle childhood as a result of a drug related offense. According to statistics, the United States criminal justice system currently houses nearly 2.3 million individuals, an increase of nearly 500 percent in the last 30 years. While African-Americans make up approximately 13 percent of the current population in the United States, they make up nearly half of the incarcerated population. Many believe that the War on Drugs has contributed to the increase in the numbers of individuals incarcerated and to the sentencing disparities which exist. In 1980, approximately 41,000 individuals were incarcerated due to a drug related offense and estimates indicate that this number is now nearly half a million.
With the staggering numbers of individuals who are currently incarcerated, many have begun to examine the collateral consequence of incarceration which is the effect on family members. Research conducted relating to family members has focused on the physical, behavioral, as well as psychological effects of the incarceration on the family member. A primary area of study related to how incarceration impacts families has focused on children of incarcerated parents and statistics estimate that nearly ten million children have experienced having a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives. In addition, approximately 90 percent of incarcerated parents are fathers and Black children are eight or nine times more likely than White children to have an incarcerated parent. Minimal research exists which allows the child to share the experience in their own words and no research exists specifically examining the experience of children solely impacted by the War on Drugs. The current study was exploratory in nature and examined the experience of and effects of paternal incarceration as experienced by daughters whose fathers were incarcerated when they were in middle childhood as a result of a drug related offense. Interviews were conducted with 10 participants and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was utilized to analyze the collected data. IPA is a type of qualitative data analysis which provides in depth examination of human lived experience. During the analysis five superordinate themes were identified which included The Need for Transparency- “I just wanted to know the truth”, The Broken Family Unit- The Father’s Absence, The Stain of Incarceration – “Life was never the same”, Buffers and Barriers to Adjustment, and Becoming Independent – Fear of Relying on Others. In addition, subthemes were identified within the superordinate themes which captured the uniqueness of the participant experience of paternal incarceration. Results revealed some similarities in experience and also confirmed how different the experience of individuals can be who experience paternal incarceration. Implications for practice are also discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Carter, Robert T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 11, 2015