Volume 90, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0025-9454
  • E-ISSN: 1876-2816



The current study examines the partner relationships of male prisoners prior to incarceration. Earlier studies on prisoners’ partner relationships exclusively focused on the period during or after incarceration. However, knowledge on the pre-detention period is essential to establish any causal effects of incarceration on partner relationships. We describe a wide variety of aspects of prisoners’ partner relationships: relationship history, current relationship status, and characteristics of the current relationship (quality, support, conflict, and partner violence). In addition, we make a direct comparison with partner relationships among the general population. We use unique data from the Prison Project ( = 1,909) and the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS; = 2,718). The results show that prisoners’ relationship histories are more instable, and characterized by less traditional relationship forms. Prior to imprisonment, partner relationships appear to be already more problematic. The findings stress the importance of including pre-detention partner relationship information in studies on the impact of incarceration. Also, they shed light on the potential role of justice officials in offering guidance on prisoners’ partner relationships.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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