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Statistics Concerning Children of Prisoners
- There are more than 1.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent (The Sentencing Project/Research and Advocacy for Reform, Feb. 2009).
- More than half of incarcerated parents in a state prison and almost half of parents in a federal prison have never had a personal visit from their child(ren) (Sentencing Project, 2009).
- Since 1997, the frequency of contact between children and their parents in federal prison has dropped substantially; monthly contact has decreased by 28 percent, while those who report never having contact has increased by 17 percent (Sentencing Project/Research and Advocacy for Reform, Feb. 2009).
- Some 10 million young people in the United States have had a mother or father - or both - spend time behind bars at some point in their lives (Partnerships between Corrections and Child Welfare, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007).
- One in 43 (2.3 percent) American children has a parent incarcerated in state or federal prison (Sentencing Project/Research and Advocacy for Reform, Feb. 2009).
- Between 1995 and 2005, the number of incarcerated women in the United States increased by 57 percent compared to an increase of 34 percent for men (Prisoners in 2005, Bureau of Justice Statistics).
- Fifty-two percent of all incarcerated men and women are parents (Sentencing Project, 2009), and 75 percent of incarcerated women are mothers (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, 2000).
- Sixty-three percent of federal prisoners and 55 percent of state prisoners are parents of children under age 18 (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, 2000).
- Approximately half of children with incarcerated parents are under ten years old; 22 percent of children of state inmates and 16 percent of children of federal inmates are under five years old (Sentencing Project/Research and Advocacy for Reform, Feb. 2009).
- One in 15 (6.7 percent) African American children, one in 42 (2.4 percent) Hispanic children, and one in 111 (0.9 percent) Caucasian children have an incarcerated parent. Since 1997, the number of Caucasian and Hispanic children with an incarcerated parent has increased 26 percent and 20 percent respectively, while the number of African American children remains the same (Sentencing Project, 2009).
- More than 60 percent of parents in state prison and more than 80 percent of parents in federal prison are incarcerated more than 100 miles from their last place of residence; only 15 percent of parents in a state facility and about 5 percent of parents in a federal facility are incarcerated less than 50 miles from their last place of residence (Sentencing Project, 2009).
- Parental incarceration creates financial instability and material hardship as well as instability in family relationships and structure (Parental Incarceration in Fragile Families: Summary of Three Year Findings, an unpublished report to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007).
- Having an incarcerated parent often results in school behavior and performance problems as well as social and institutional stigma and shame (Vulnerability of Children of Incarcerated Addict Mothers: Implications for Preventive Intervention, Children and Youth Services Review, 2005).
- In addition to lowering the likelihood of recidivism among incarcerated parents, there is evidence that maintaining the child-parent relationship while a parent is incarcerated improves a child’s emotional response to the incarceration and encourages parent-child attachment (Examining the Effect of Incarceration and In-Prison Family Contact on Prisoners’ Family Relationships, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 2005).