Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-2020


Parental Incarceration, Maine Children, Justice Policy


Parental incarceration is a known Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) which affects a large number of children nationwide. Research shows that children who experience parental incarceration are more at risk for trauma, mental health problems, and juvenile justice system involvement. The goal of this report was to further our understanding of the scale of parental incarceration and the impact on the children in Maine. This report provides a snapshot of the number of children who were impacted by parental incarceration in the state system over a 5-year period (2015-2020). The findings show that for the majority of these parents, there is no legal factor prohibiting contact with their children. Therefore, continuing to nurture the parent-child relationship while the parent is incarcerated is possible and important to minimize the trauma and associated risks. While more research is needed to better understand the nuances of parental incarceration in Maine, this research supports the implementation of policies and programs to help put Maine families and children first. By ensuring Maine families have access to appropriate services and a community-based network of support we can stop the cycle of intergenerational incarceration and improve outcomes for Maine’s children.


The Place Matters project aims to support the state of Maine and its communities in redesigning, implementing, and evaluating a community-based continuum of care through systems innovation, data resources, and community inclusion. Our work focuses on translating data and innovative practices into community-based solutions that are both responsive to local needs and supplement existing assets so that all transition-aged young people in Maine thrive into adulthood.

The Place Matters project is housed at the Justice Policy Program within the Cutler Institute at the Muskie School of Public Service, which is located at the University of Southern Maine and is comprised of a mix of researchers, policy advisors, data visualization experts, and directly impacted youth who collaborate to develop capacity for results-focused, data-informed solutions to social and justice policy issues in Maine.

Place Matters has produced a series of reports summarizing our research, community engagement and policy recommendations. The reports in this series are intended to inform and support the work of policy makers and community members dedicated to improving outcomes for Maine’s youth. For more information about Place Matters and all published reports, please visit our website at

Funding Organization

Bingham Program



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.