Saturday, January 15, 2011

1.7 Million Children Have a Parent in Prison

This week, Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research group, released a report on the nation’s swelling number of minor children with an incarcerated parent.

The analysis found there are now more than 1.7 million children with one or more parents incarcerated. These minors face emotional trauma that can diminish their future prospects.

As the United States’ prison population has surged, so too have the number of incarcerated mothers and fathers. “In particular, the number of incarcerated women, who are most likely to have been the primary caretakers of children prior to their incarceration, has skyrocketed by more than 400 percent since 1986,” the report states.

The report details information from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). BJS has estimated that by 2007 more than half (53 percent) of the 1.5 million people in U.S. prisons were parents of one or more minor children – which is the basis for the 1.7 million number. This represents an increase of 80 percent since 1991. Nearly one quarter of these children are age four or younger, and more than a third will become
adults while their parent remains behind bars.

Moreover, data compiled at BJS shows that the acute problem of racial disparity behind bars is reflected among the children of incarcerated parents. Black children are seven and a half times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison. The rate
for Latino children is two and a half times the rate for whites. The estimated risk of parental imprisonment by age 14 for white children born in 1990 is one in 25; for black children born in the same year, it is one in four.

Overall, the nation’s prison population has increased by 700% since 1970. Nearly one in 100 adults were incarcerated by 2008, and a staggering one in 31 adults were under some form of correctional control,when counting prison, jail, probation and parole, by 2009.

To read full report:

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