The From Prisons to Home Conference, held on January 30-31, 2002 at the National Institutes of Health, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the conference was to bring together the research, policy, and practice communities to share promising strategies, identify research needs, and inform federal program and policy development for children and families affected by the incarceration of a parent. Eleven papers were commissioned by leading experts to survey the state of knowledge on the dynamics of incarceration and reentry as seen from the perspectives of child, parent and community. This background paper provides the context for the "From Prison to Home" conference papers. It gives an overview of the issues discussed and includes abstracts of the 10 papers.