Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Counseling Psychology




Laura Palmer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Thompson-Sard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Smith, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Corinne Datchi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Cruz, Ph.D.


incarceration, recidivism, prison, fatherhood, relationships, protective-factors


Of the men who return home from prison, nearly 7 out of 10 will be re-arrested and sent back within 3 years of their release (Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001). This trend has large- scale implications, not just for individuals, but for their families and communities as well. Clearly, understanding the factors that contribute to a man’s success or failure in staying out of prison is extremely important in constructing policy and programs to assist these at-risk individuals and communities. Of the few studies that have explored the lives of previously incarcerated men, some have found fatherhood to be a salient factor (Arditti, Smock, & Parkman, 2005). The current study investigated this particular relationship by looking at the father’s perceived quality of the father-child bond, and how that relationship is related to the fathers’ risk for re-offending. The study also investigated the contribution that social and individual factors play in facilitating the father-child bond, as well as the contribution that those factors may make in predicting recidivism risk; specifically, the father’s own experience of being parented, the quality of communication they have with their child’s mother, their perception of social support, and individual factors associated with motivation to change. The study found empirical evidence to suggest that a positive father-child bond may reduce recidivism risk for previously incarcerated men. In addition, the study found that the father-child relationship may be a more significant predictor of recidivism risk than individual characteristics, intergenerational influences, co-parental communication, or social support alone. This evidence suggests that the father-child relationship is not only an important familial tie that can be correlated with better re-entry, but may be a potentially salient area for future intervention to aid this at-risk group of men, their families, and communities.