Outcomes for Children of Incarcerated Parents Essay

1864 Words Sep 11th, 2008 8 Pages
Affecting Outcomes for the Invisible Casualties of War – The Children of Incarcerated Parents

On December 31, 2005, 2,320,359 people were incarcerated in the United States. Of these inmates, 107,518 were female. As of 2004, the most recent date for which statistics are available, it is estimated that there are approximately 2.8 million children of incarcerated parents. Of this number, approximately 320,000 are children of incarcerated mothers. The problem with these estimates is that at best, they are an educated guess. Most states lack uniform methods of recording the demographic information regarding an inmate’s children. Moreover, many inmates may choose not to identify their children for the fear of the possibility
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The long-term consequences can be nothing short of devastating. They include
It is also very important to consider that numerous other factors affect the adjustment of children to the incarceration of a parent. These effects include the nature of a family’s living arrangements prior to incarceration. It stands to reason that many children of incarcerated parents were living with non-parental caregivers prior to the incarceration of a parent. It is proposed that an average of half of inmate parents actually lived with their children before admission to prison. Other effects include the developmental level of the child and the quality of the relationship between incarcerated parent and child, the gender of the incarcerated parent, the nature of the kinship network of the incarcerated parent, and the nature and availability of formal institutional supports for the family of the incarcerated parent should all be considered.
Historical Context – How Did We Get Here, and Who are “We?” Between 1970 and 2005, the United States has experienced a 700% increase in the prison population. Since 1997, the incarceration rate has been steadily increasing, while the crime rate has been in relative decline. The War on Drugs started in the 1988 with the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act (PL 100-690), various states’ “Three-Strikes Laws,” (often referred to as habitual offender laws), Mandatory Minimum Sentencing at both

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