Title: Supporting an Incarcerated Loved One During A Global Pandemic
Funding Source: MITACS & York University
Abstract: Extensive research has already been conducted on the unprecedented ways that COVID-19 has affected Canadians. However, little is known about the impact of the virus on the families of incarcerated populations and how they have navigated providing support under conditions that have restricted interpersonal interactions. This study focuses on Black prisoners given the racialized dimension of Canada's carceral population. Although Black people make up only 3.5% of the general population of Canada, Black inmates comprise 8% of the federal prison population. Additionally, Black inmates spend more time in provincial jails awaiting trial than their white counterparts. Given this context, COVID-19 controls in carceral environments present particular challenges for Black inmates and their supportive loved ones. In this study, I conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with women in a relationship with an incarcerated man who identifies as Black/Afro-Canadian. Preliminary findings have uncovered themes related to managing social stigma, financial constraints that impede support, navigating temporary single-parenthood, and the impact of institutional restrictions on interpersonal connections. This paper explores the various challenges experienced by the wives, girlfriends, and other female family members of Black inmates in Ontario as the result of institutional COVID-19 restrictions.
This research was first presented at Canadian Sociological Association's "Congress" in 2021
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