Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Lisa Kiesel

Abstract

Incarceration is an issue that affects thousands of families on a yearly basis. To date, the majority of studies examining this loss have observed the impact of incarceration on children and parents; primarily how imprisonment affects child attachment to mothers and fathers (Brown et. al., 2000). Most often overlooked within these studies have been the siblings of brothers and sisters who have been adjudicated (Brown et al., 2000). Specifically of interest to this study is how professionals understand the impact of sibling incarceration on grief and coping styles of non-offending siblings. Furthermore, how does this knowledge impact working relationships between professionals and these family members?

Using a qualitative design, this study examined the impact of sibling incarceration from the professional perspective. Six professionals working through some capacity with the criminal justice were interviewed and asked to share their perceptions about the impact incarceration has on non-offending siblings. A total of four themes were identified, relating to the continual study of the impact of parent versus sibling relationships, sibling involvement related to program lengths, the various feelings and roles non-offending siblings take on, and the types of communication non-offending siblings use when incorporated into the treatment or reconciliation process.

The findings of this study indicated a continued need for future research to explore the impact of sibling imprisonment on both offending and non-offending siblings. Implications for future social work practice were also discussed.

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