Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type



Sociology & Anthropology


Despite the decline in crime rates and attempts to regulate prison populations, the United States leads the industrialized world with the highest imprisonment rates. Though reasons of incarceration vary, many inmates share the experience of parenting behind bars. With over half of the incarcerated population claiming guardianship over a minor in the U.S. today, the issue of familial relationships has emerged as a central point of study in recidivism and crime prevention research. However, efforts to retain father-child relationships in correctional institutions across the US are failing. The most successful parenting programs (NFI) have only been standardized in 25 states and Montana is not among them. With support from the social identity theory, this study will critique the effectiveness of the parent education program at the Montana State Prison. Observation and survey pre- and post-test comparisons will provide statistical data for a program comparison between Nurturing Parenting and NFI programsInsideOut Dad and 24/7 Dad. Findings indicate that, while inmates at MSP who complete the program express a slightly elevated sense of self-worth and parent identity, there is an overall dis-satisfaction with their relationships as a result of not receiving comparable parenting education. They are left without the necessary tools to continue self-improvement after incarceration. Implications of these findings are discussed with the intention of determining if MSP would benefit from a change in their parenting education program. Changes could reduce recidivism rates as well as help incarcerated parents maintain healthy relationships with their children upon release.