When a father goes to prison, his family goes to prison–and that, of course, includes the children, the biggest losers.
In 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Incarceration and the Family – A Review of Research and Promising Approaches for Serving Fathers and Families: Characteristics of Incarcerated Fathers”, 744,200 state and federal prisoners were fathers to 1,599,200 children under the age of 18 (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008).
And, an unpublished study by Mumola, estimates that the total number of children that have either a mother, father or both in some part of the correctional system–whether jail, prison or correctional supervision, such as parole or probation–is 7,476,500!
And that’s only counting parents that are currently in the system. Those numbers don’t include parents who have ever been in the system–which, undoubtedly, would be much, much higher.
Chico Debarge Discusses non-profit organization for ex-cons, People Reclaiming Ourselves:
But what happens to the father-child relationship when daddy’s doing time? And, is it possible to have a healthy father-child relationship, while in prison and upon release? How does having a father in prison affect the child’s self-esteem, self-worth and how they see themselves and the world?
Make no mistake about it, children who’s fathers are locked up can have deep and very unique emotional and socio-economic challenges.
“Read To Me Daddy Program”
But who are these incarcerated fathers and what do they look like?
- Of the total number of parents in federal prison, 36% were married and 25% were divorced or separated.
- Among state prisoners, 23% of parents were married and 28% were divorced or separated (Mumola, 2000).
- In 2007, a disproportionate number of fathers incarcerated in state prison were African American (42%) or Latino (20%).
- African American (49%) and Latino (28%) men made up a disproportionate share of fathers in federal prison as well (Glaze and Maruschak, 2008).
What about the kids?
- The average age of children with an incarcerated parent is 8 years old (Mumola, 2000).
- Most incarcerated fathers (88%) report that at least one of their children is in the care of the child’s other parent, compared to 37% of mothers (Glaze and Maruschak, 2008).
- Of children with an incarcerated father, 12% live with a grandparent or other relative and 4% live in foster care or with a non-family member (Johnson, 2006).
Resource for people with Criminal Records:
H.I.R.E stands for Helpping individuals with criminal records re-enter through employment. Hire is an organization that “makes referrals to state and local government and community based programs that directly assist job seekers with criminal records with job training, placement and retention services.”