Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Samuel Walker

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet Porter

Third Advisor

Dr. Jane Woody

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Julie Horney


Recent research has focused attention on the female lawbreaker. Yet the children of the female offender remain nearly a neglected issue. This thesis investigates one aspect of the problem — the services provided by the criminal justice and social service agencies in Douglas County, Nebraska for children of inmate mothers. Children of inmate mothers became a concern of the investigator while working in a local residential facility for female inmates during 1974 to 1976. Several observations were made during this time. First, when sentencing a woman to a correctional facility, criminal court judges rarely exhibited concern over the whereabouts of the children. Many mothers began serving a sentence without making adequate preparation for the care of their dependents because judges had overlooked the situation of the children. Second, many inmate mothers were not aware of what, if any, public and private agency services were available for their children. Some agencies were unaware that children being served had mothers living in jail or prison. There was an apparent lack of communication and planning between social service agencies, inmate mothers and correctional personnel. Third, many children were not receiving services or financial assistance because the mother or caretaker were not cognizant of what public aid was available to the children. Therefore, some children had unmet financial, medical or other social service needs. Fourth, no single or combined agencies existed in Douglas County to oversee the welfare of inmates' dependents. Services and provisions for the children were fragmented and arbitrary. From the above concerns, this thesis has evolved.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Criminal Justice and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Virginia Hronek Burns June, 1979

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