I used to write
But haven't lately
Who would I show it to...?
About him in prison
shame, About waiting
About loving someone
Children do not understand the principles
of incarceration. What appears obvious to them is that their parent is going, that they have been abandoned, rejected and
therefore are not loved and are unlovable. The most common feeling for these children is that of rejection. The reason why
a parent has left doesn't matter as much as that they left. The child has lost someone who may have been once a vital part
of their day to day life. Children feel guilt and feel that they are in some way to blame. They suffer from a lack of
trust and feelings of betrayal. There is shame and much instability. They are now alone, at school, at home and even on special
days like their birthday and holidays.
2.4 million American children have a mother or father in jail or prison right now. More
than 7 million or one in ten of the nation's children, have a parent under criminal justice supervision- incarcerated, on
probation or on parole. In some neighborhoods, the numbers are so high that children that some children will say that everyone
has seen a mother or father locked up at one point or another.
The prison boom has robbed children of the presence of a parent. It has stripped poor communities
of the most valuable resource they have left, familial bonds. Children are more and more relying on grandparents or a series
of paid strangers to raise them.
Children of prisoners often suffer from
anxiety and attention disorders, or from post-traumatic stress. They are likely to bounce from one caregiver to another; and
may have trouble at school. Often they are poor already and become even more poor when their parent is arrested.
These children have not committed a crime, but their penalty is steep. They often lose their home, their safety, their public
status, their self image, their primary source of comfort and affection.
adapted from the book, All Alone in The World, Children of the Incarcerated by Nell Bernstein
When Andy's Father Went
to Prison: by Martha Whitmore Hickman
A story of a boy named Andy who
is beginning 2nd grade in a new school, so that he can live closer to his father who is in prison. Great story to share with
a child who has a parent in prison.
imprisons 756 inmates per 100,00- residents, a rate of nearly 5 times the world's average. About 1 in every 31 adults in this
country is in jail or an supervised release. Either we are the most evil people on earth or we are doing something very wrong."
Senator Jim Webb
Children of Incarcerated Parents Facts:
- On any given day, 1/5 million children in this country have a parent serving a sentence in a state or federal prison.
- There is a disparate impact on families of color, with African American children nine times more likely and Hispanic
children three times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison.
- Between 1995
and 2005, the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. increased by 57% compared to 34% for men. 75% of incarcerated women
- 63% of federal prisoners and 55% of state prisoners are parents to children under
- 46% of all imprisoned parents lived with at least one of their minor children, prior
- The average age of children with an incarcerated parent is 8years old, 22% of children
are under age 5.
There is not reliable research evidence to support the assertion
that children of the incarcerated are many times more likely to be incarcerated as adults.
Maintaining contact with the incarcerated parent improves children's emotional response to the incarceration and
supports the parent-child attachment.
( The Annie E.Casey Foundation)
Children of Incarcerated Parents: A
Bill of Rights
1. I have the right to be kept safe and informed of the time of my parent's arrest.
2. I have the right to be heard when decisions are made about me.
3. I have the right to be considered when decisions are made about my parent.
4. I have the right to be well cared for in my parent's absence.
5. I have the right to speak with, see and touch my parent.
6. I have the right to support, as I struggle with my parent's incarceration.
7. I have the right not to be judged, blamed or labeled because of my parent's incarceration.
8. I have the right ot a lifelong relationship with my parent.
( adapted from The Prevention Researcher, April 2006 by Cynthia Timmons)
After Incarceration: Adolescent-Parent Reunification
Promoting Successful Reunification:
1. Encourage communication between the adolescent and incarcerated parent.
2. Send school reports to the incarcerated parent t keep them engaged in the youth's school
3. Provide support to children and their caregivers so they
can visit the incarcerated parent.
4. Provide youth with opportunities
to interact with peers who have also experienced parental incarceration.
Encourage and support the caregiver.
6. Encourage the incarcerated parent
to participate in prison programs, such as substance abuse treatment or parenting program, as needed.
7. Encourage realistic expectations about reunification.
( Gretchen Newby)