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Incarcerated mothers: Effects of the Mother /Offspring Life Development Program (MOLD) on recidivism, prosocial moral development, empathy, hope, and parent -child attachment

Irit Gat, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The primary purpose of this two-part quasi-experiment was to examine select rehabilitative benefits of the mother/Offspring Life Development Program (MOLD). MOLD focuses on maintaining the mother-child relationship during the mother's prison sentence at the York Women's Correctional Facility in York, Nebraska. MOLD offers parenting education classes and visitation programs for incarcerated-mothers and their children and a nursery for pregnant inmates. In Part I of the study, archival records were used to investigate the rate of recidivism of MOLD participants between 1990 and 1995. These participants were compared to incarcerated women at the same correctional facility between 1990 and 1995 who did not participate in MOLD. The test for significant differences between proportions revealed no significant differences between the two groups with regard to recidivism rate. Although the trend was in the predicted direction, the power to find significant differences was only 28%. ^ Part II measured pre- to posttest changes in parent/child attachment, prosocial moral development (PROM), empathy (IRI), and hope. For parent-child attachment, the control and Nursery groups scored higher than the MOLD participants. Similarly for the PROM and IRI Perspective-Taking subscale, the control participants scored higher than the MOLD participants. Despite group membership, for all participants, the IRI Empathic Concern subscale scores increased, and the IRI Personal Distress subscale scores decreased. ^ Several possible explanations are discussed. For instance, with regard to confounding variables, it is possible that the effects of MOLD extends to the entire population of women at the York Correctional Facility through a social-cognitive process, such as vicarious learning. or because MOLD participants are self-selected, they may be in greater need for assistance with their parenting skills, thus accounting for lower scores on the dependent variables. In addition, several of the women in the control group had participated in MOLD several years prior to this study. Thus, the skills they originally developed through MOLD, coupled with an extended period of incarceration time, may have given them an opportunity to grow in areas as measured in this study. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Women's Studies|Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Gat, Irit, "Incarcerated mothers: Effects of the Mother /Offspring Life Development Program (MOLD) on recidivism, prosocial moral development, empathy, hope, and parent -child attachment" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9976990.