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February 10, 2009

The realties of family values in prison nation

Yesterday I received via e-mail this new about a notable new report from the folks atThe Sentencing Project:

A new analysis by The Sentencing Project highlights the growth in the number of incarcerated parents and their children since 1991.  Incarcerated Parents and Their Children: Trends, 1991-2007 reviews data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and documents the growing impact of incarceration on children and families.

As of 2007, 1.7 million children had a parent in prison, an 82% increase from the figure of 936,000 in 1991.  The racial/ethnic variation among this group is quite broad: 1 in 15 African-American children has a parent in prison, as does 1 in 42 Latino children and 1 in 111 white children.

Due to the distance from home in which many parents are incarcerated — 62% of parents in state prisons are more than 100 miles from home — visits from children are declining over time. In 2004, more than half of parents in state prisons and nearly half in federal prisons had never had a visit from their children.

To address the issues presented by these developments, The Sentencing Project recommends policy responses [of various sorts in this report].

February 10, 2009 at 07:57 AM | Permalink


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I've had the child protective services worker threaten the parent at liberty that she will bring a termination-of-parental-rights case against the parent who's free, if (s)he takes the child(ren) to visit the inacarcerated parent while (s)he's still in the local county jail, let alone to visit later at the far-away prison.

Posted by: Greg Jones | Feb 10, 2009 11:38:56 AM

When I was sentenced in May 2000, my daughter, Kathleen, was 7 months old. Her Mother sent me a letter in jail the week after I was sentenced to 97 months in Federal prison for white-collar crimes,stating that she was divorcing me and that she would not permit Kathleen to visit with me in prison. At the time our divorce became final in May 2001, the Judge stated that because I was held in Virginia, more than 900 miles from Atlanta, and Kathleen was too you to travel interstate for visitation, she would not grant any visitation at that time. During my incarceration, my ex-wife received cards from me and my Mother for Kathleen's birthday and various holidays. None of the checks that my mother enclosed with her cards has ever been cashed. We believe that my ex-wife has never given any of the cards to Kathleen, but has simply thrown them into the trash unopened, not even realizing that there was money inside. I have paid my ex-wife more than $27,000 of child support during and after my incarceration, but she still refuses to voluntarily permit me to see my daughter. I do not have the money to litigate visitation in Atlanta now, and I live in Kentucky. Even if I obtain visitation, I don't know how I would financially afford to commute every other weekend to Atlanta to exercise my visitation. Kathleen is now 9 1/2 years old, and doesn't even know who I am. Thousands of state and Fedderal prison inmates are in the same predicament. This is morally wrong and should be remedied within the judicial system.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Feb 10, 2009 3:04:49 PM

i have a loved one in prison right now. we have four children together. while he is still in reception he is only alowed to have three visiters at a time which makes it impossible for him to see all four of his children. we live over 100 miles away form the prison that he is in. we cant afford to go see him every weekend. iam not even sure if he will be able to see our children until he comes home. before placing inmates in prison they should take into consideration parents that are raising there children and place those inmates in a prison that is close to their family. i know that if my husband was closer he would be able to see our children. but unstead he is now missing over a year out of our childrens lives.

Posted by: chrissy | Feb 10, 2009 7:11:10 PM

Greg if you check with your state web page on child support and visitation the State maybe able to help you. When my daughter was incarcerated, we lived 15 miles from the father, and it was a chore to come and get his son on the weekends, for one night. When she came home we moved across the state and now even though she has a lawyer, she has to travel half way to meet him twice a month. It sucks, but he does have rights, although he is not paying his full child support and the Child Enforcement says that he is paying something so they don't want to scare him, what the hell does that mean. Check with your state, you do have rights unless you gave up your parental rights.

Posted by: OliveRose | Feb 11, 2009 8:36:39 AM

For the person who's loved on is in prison, you need to request a special visit so all your children can visit or try and work with the Warden, (I know that is funny) but some will work with you for Special Visits, Classification is who you should call or get your loved one to get you the request. I am not sure what state you are in, but this is how it works in Florida.

Posted by: OliveRose | Feb 11, 2009 8:39:14 AM

There's a flipside to the coin. Should an innocent parent be forced to cart the children to see a criminal in prison. That's a huge burden to impose on a person, and there's a real legal question as to whether the government has the right to force people to travel long distances and subject themselves to the indignity of setting foot in prison to facilitate a visitation.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 12, 2009 7:39:51 PM

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