Jail Bird Baby’s Daddy–Break the Cycle

Updated 06/01/2018

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And, an unpublished study by Mumola, estimates that the total number of children that have either a mother, father or both in some part of the correctional system–whether jail,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).

My Daddy’s Is In Jail:
Story, Discussion Guide, and Small Group Activity for Grades K-5

How to Love and Inspire Your Man After Prison

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.”

In the Resourecs and Assistance tab, you can get direction in obtaining insight on identifying employers who might be willing to hire job seekers with criminal records.
LAC.org (Legal Action Center)
The Legal Action Center has developed an “advocacy kit on 12 critically important policy, funding and legal issues that can be used to remove nearly all of the most harmful roadblocks to re-entry.” Another thing they do (among many) is to “help improve the justice system by assisting qualified people with criminal records in fighting discrimination and obtaining employemtn and services needed to re-enter society successfully.”
A non-profit group that helps people with crimnal records and ex-cons re-enter society as productive citizens. Services include workshops, resources, career assistance and more. They also monitor other non-profit group that are receiving funds to help these individuals, but are falling short.
Learn Your Rights:
It is also wise to learn your rights and protections under the law as it applies to individuals with a criminal past.  I suggest reading through this excellent resource www.blogs.law.columbia.edu/4cs/immigration, then click on the tab titled employment.  It is a very helpful and free site.

2 thoughts on “Jail Bird Baby’s Daddy–Break the Cycle

  1. Hi,
    We are the organization (Children’s Justice Alliance) that put the top video you have linked above, “What About Us?” onto YouTube. The video appears on our parentinginsideout.org website, which is about the parenting curriculum described in the video.

    We have been looking for statistics on the total number of children impacted by incarceration. You reference an unpublished study by Mumola that cites some figures. Can you give me a link to that information?

    Thank you,
    Mindy Clark
    Children’s Justice Alliance

    • Hi Mindy, the link is in the article and comes from the study Incarceration and the Family: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/08/MFS-IP/Incarceration&Family/ch2.shtml; however, I will e-mail it to you directly.

      2.1 Prevalence and Sociodemographics

      Accurate understanding of the characteristics of fathers involved in the criminal justice system will improve service system planning and delivery. In this chapter we describe the sociodemographic, parenting, sentencing, and health characteristics of incarcerated fathers.

      According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2007 an estimated 744,200 state and federal prisoners in the United States were fathers to 1,599,200 children under the age of 18 (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). An unpublished estimate from Mumola suggests that 7,476,500 children have a parent (mother or father) who is in prison, in jail or under correctional supervision (2006). Few studies have attempted to describe the characteristics of incarcerated fathers and the children they parent. “Parents in Prison and their Minor Children,” a special report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, is the most complete resource available to date for such information. The report (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008) is based on findings from the Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities conducted in 2004, and on National Prisoners Statistics program custody counts. The Surveys of Inmates involved quantitative data collection with a representative sample of 18,185 persons incarcerated in state and federal prisons. Below we provide some descriptive information about parents in prison, based primarily on this work and its antecedent (Mumola, 2000).

      Thanks for your comment and for the great work you and your organization do to help incarcerated fathers and their children!

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