U.S. incarceration rates have soared over the past three decades and the demographic characteristics of those who end up in prison are a reflection of the nation's structural inequality. Incarcerated fathers are a socially disadvantaged group and spending time in prison compounds already significant risk factors that these men experienced throughout their lives. In addition, it increases the risk that their children will suffer from the intergenerational transmission of social inequality. While studies indicate that maintaining contact between incarcerated fathers and their children has the potential to benefit them both and improve a variety of outcomes, there is limited research on the factors that impact incarcerated father-child contact. Based on the ecological model and the cumulative risk framework, this thesis attempts to help fill this gap in the current literature by examining whether an incarcerated father's cumulative risk factors impact the frequency of contact he has with his children. Using a nationally representative data set of men in state prisons and a negative binomial regression analysis, this study found that number of childhood risk experiences was a significant predictor of an incarcerated father's contact with his children. In addition, minority status moderated the relationship
between childhood risk and frequency of visits, with an increased effect of risk on father-child contact for African American and Hispanic men. While the quadratic term of Risk² was not significant, disproving the hypothesis that there is a non-linear relationship between risk and contact, a visual representation of the distribution showed that contact between fathers and their children dropped substantially for men with the highest number of risk factors. This study provides valuable information about the relationship between the childhood experiences of incarcerated fathers and their subsequent social ties. The knowledge that childhood risk impacts frequency of father-child contact has the potential to inform interventions aimed at improving outcomes for these at-risk families.