What is the nature and scope of the problem?
The incarceration of a loved one can be devastating for families. Children may experience a tremendous amount of difficulty with this reality. Not to mention the stress imposed on the new caregivers. A whopping two million of America 's children have at least one parent in prison (Miller, Perryman, Markovitz, Franzen, Cochran, & Brown 2013). From 1991 to 2007 the number of children under the age of 18 with a mother in prison doubled, this led to an increase number of children residing with alternate caregivers, ie; grandparent, sister, or brother. Children with incarcerated parents are often called the “forgotten victims” of crime. This population often goes unnoticed as if they are hidden victims of imprisonment. Children from ages 0-5 are definitely part of the at-risk pool. This essay will attempt identify and pin-point particular issues this specific population may face. There are countless questions that needs answers pertaining to the effects of parental imprisonment on children. A few of the questions are; Why might parental imprisonment cause adverse outcomes for children? Is parental imprisonment associated with adverse outcomes for children? Why do some children have poor outcomes while others do not (Tonry 2008, p.139)? In order to answer these questions the author examines various studies that were already done. Most of what we know comes from a series of reports by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on incarcerated parents and their children, that in turn, are based upon periodic national surveys of inmates in state and federal prisons (Christian, 2009).
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...spanic children). Black (54 percent) and Hispanic (57 percent) men in state prison were more likely than white men (45 percent) to be parents (Christian,2009).” About half of these children were age 9 or younger.
The many issues that face children of incarcerated parents and their families are complex and cross the jurisdictional boundaries of multiple agencies and service systems. In addition, thoughtful policy making in this area is hindered by lack of reliable data on the characteristics of these children and a paucity of sound research on both the effects of parental incarceration and the effectiveness of interventions. Nevertheless, a growing number of state policymakers are taking an active interest in helping children of incarcerated parents. This paper provides a preliminary framework for those who must deal with this critical policy issue.
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