Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Jason Hans


Incarcerated parents are at a substantially higher risk for losing their legal right to parent than the general public. This study assessed implicit perceptions and biases that may play a role in these legal decisions, specifically the perceptions of incarcerated parents’ ability to parent and influence their children’s lives. Court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers’ (N = 242) perceptions of incarcerated parents based on the parents’ personal characteristics, characteristics of their children, and characteristics of their criminal activity were assessed through a true-experiment design. Ordinal regression analyses revealed that age of child, level of violence in the crime committed, and criminal history are all relevant factors in assessing parental ability and influence. Additionally, patterns were found in respondents’ open-ended responses suggesting that racial and gender bias may also play a role, despite the statistical nonsignificance of close-ended responses. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)