Kristin Turney, sociology associate professor, has been named a 2016 William T. Grant Scholar. One of only five researchers selected from a nationwide pool, the recognition includes a five-year, $350,000 award to support her research on how children are impacted by parental incarceration. 

 “We are extremely proud of Professor Turney’s accomplishments and thrilled that the William T. Grant Foundation has selected her for one of the most competitive and prestigious research awards in the social, behavioral and health sciences,” says Bill Maurer, social sciences dean. “By focusing on the collateral implications of parental incarceration and well-being on children’s academic and behavioral outcomes, her groundbreaking work points to the longer term implications of imprisonment on inequality across generations. These findings are highly significant and have tremendous impact across disciplines.” 

Turney’s five-year project with the foundation will be focusing specifically on intergenerational consequences of paternal incarceration during childhood and adolescence, drawing from in-depth and longitudinal interviews with more than 120 families (including incarcerated fathers, mothers and children) in Orange County she is currently collecting (with support from the National Science Foundation). She will combine this information with survey data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to determine how long the consequences of paternal incarceration last and for whom and how paternal incarceration is most consequential. Her goal is to better understand how paternal incarceration contributes to inequality across generations and how these inequalities may be diminished. 

The William T. Grant Foundation funding brings Turney’s total external research support to $850,000 since she arrived at UCI in 2011. She’s looked at a number of ways in which incarceration affects family life, including educational outcomes for children, availability of food for families, and overall childhood inequality. She’s discovered some interesting findings; in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, she found that recently incarcerated mothers have an increased likelihood of depression and struggle with even more health conditions than expected due to disadvantages they experienced before time in prison.  She’s also found that a prison sentence may not always have negative consequences for families connected to incarcerated men. Her work has been published widely in Social Problems, Social Forces, the Journal of Marriage and Family, the American Sociological Review, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and several others. 

She was recognized for research on the topic at last year’s annual meeting of the American Sociological Association; she received the Distinguished Early Career Award from the Section on Children and Youth. She’ll be presenting a new paper at this year’s meeting in August on how relationship transitions in fathers’ lives affect involvement with their children.



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