The other day I received a most refreshing email. A friend sent me a PDF file about a group in New York that was focused on the children of incarcerated parents. Where as the Osborne Association of New York has been working on a summit for over three years, I have just found out about it. There is one incredible wall of denial on the subject and it tends to focus on the topic of the parent deserving everything they get. The children of these parents are lost in the shuffle.
Don’t know why but there are no organizations, interest groups, or government agencies to speak or be interested on their behalf. These are kids that are lost in the shuffle and only come to the attention of the state when they are in need of placement or incarceration by authorities. On the surface, there is no appreciation for the magnitude of the problem. So, let me scratch the surface with a few facts about this problem on a national scale:
- 54% percent of incarcerated men and women are parents with minor children (ages 0-17), including more than 120,000 mothers and 1.1 million fathers.[i]
- More than 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent who is incarcerated—1 in every 28 children (more than 3.6%) have an incarcerated parent, compared to 1 in 125 just 25 years ago. Two-thirds of these children’s parents were incarcerated for non-violent offenses.[ii]
- 4% of women in state prison, 3% of women in federal prison, and about 5% of women in jail nationwide reported being pregnant at the time of their incarceration.[i]
- A national study conducted in 1998 estimated that of parents arrested, 67% were handcuffed in front of their children, 27% reported weapons drawn in front of their children, 4.3% reported a physical struggle, and 3.2% reported the use of pepper spray.[ii]
- In 2004, approximately 59% of parents in a state correctional facility and 45% of parents in a federal correctional facility reported never having had a personal visit from their children.[iii]
[i] Correctional Association of New York. (2009). Women in Prison Fact Sheet. New York, NY: Women in Prison Project.
[ii] Phillips, S. D. (1998). Programming for children of female offenders. Proceedings from 4th National Head Start Research Conference. Washington, DC [cited in report to the Oregon Legislature on Senate Bill 133 (p.2). December 2002]
[iii] Appendix Table 10, p. 18, in Glaze, L., & Maruschak, L. (2010). Parents in prison and their children. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
[i] The Pew Charitable Trusts: Pew Center on the States. (2010). Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Economic_Mobility/Collateral%20Costs%20FINAL.pdf
[ii] Pew Charitable Trusts. (2010).