Ambivalent and Entangled: The dynamic of the incarcerated male's marital relationships
Hsiang-Lan Liu(Division Head, Counseling Center, Pushing Middle & Primary School, Taipei city)、Hon-Yei Annie Yu(Professor, Div. of Social Work, Dept. of Sociology, National Taiwan University)
Because of incarceration, a family doesn’t only experience dismemberment also face the disorganization crisis. According to the Taiwan Appeal Court (1997), there were 628 cases of penal servitude among reasons for all judged divorce cases of 1996, next to the number of discard, and they were mostly initiated by the wives. Most inmates still maintain certain relationship with their families while being physically separated, and they eventually will return to home. However, without noticing the dynamics of an inmate’ family relationship change during his incarceration, the later family reunion may turn out to be the beginning of another separation. This research intends to uncover the mechanisms underlying the inmates’ marital relationship so as to develop empowerment policy and program for the inmates and their families, and to decrease the recurrence rates. Thus, the research questions are as follows: What is happening to his marital relationship, in terms of role and affections, while an inmate is separated from his wife? What are the mechanisms affecting this marital relationship? Are there any gender implications?
Given the paradigm of qualitative research, the following criteria are based to sampple the interviewees: (l)the first-time sentenced inmate, (2)a married inmate with child under age 18, (3) an inmate with family member visiting regularly. Two referential criteria are further considered: the type of crime committed and the length of sentence served. The data collection is based on the in-depth interview of 6 inmates and their wives from Dec., 97 to April, 98 with their permissions.
It is found that an unbalanced role transactions happened in the family due to a husband’s incarceration. The inconsiderate visiting regulation and arrangement make an inmate and his family hard to share their real concerns. The distorted interaction pattern gradually makes a couple two strangers. It is the female in the family to bear the consequences of her husband’s law-breaking. The child-oriented family ideology further keeps a wife as well as a mother from leaving the depriving circumstances. Given the concerns of child guardianship and financial constrains, a mother is also reluctant to leave, hi the mean time, with the family roles being deprived, the experiences of disability, disempowerment, and dysfunction have caused a male inmate psychological pain and guilt. How to restore an inmate’s family relationships during his incarceration through human rights advocacy and services delivery deserves our continuous attention.
Male inmmate, Marital Relationship, Child-Oriented Family Ideology