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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Children on the Outside: Voicing the Pain and Human Costs of Parental Incarceration

  • Organization: Justice Strategies
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
  • Submitted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
  • Attachment(s): LINK

Through expert analysis and first-hand testimony from children, parents and care-givers, Children on the Outside: Voicing the Pain and Human Costs of Parental Incarceration uncovers the devastating impact of parental incarceration on youth and the broader community and points to smart approaches to reduce prison populations and assist children. This new Justice Strategies report provides first-hand accounts of the harm experienced by some of the 1.7 million minor children with a parent in prison, a population that has grown with the explosion of the U.S. prison population.

Key findings from the report include:

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimated that by 2007, more than half (53 percent) of the 1.5 million prisoners in the U.S. were parents of minor children - translating into more than 1.7 million children with an incarcerated parent. This represents an increase of 80 percent since 1991.

Nearly one quarter of these children are age four or younger, and more than a third will become adults while their parent remains behind bars.

Parental imprisonment is associated with:
Three times the odds that children will engage in antisocial or delinquent behavior (violence or drug abuse).
Negative outcomes as children and adults (school failure and unemployment).
Twice the odds of developing serious mental health problems.

Executive summary

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