Parent in Prison: How to Protect the Well-Being of the Child

More than 5 million children in the U.S. have had at least one parent in prison, according to the most recent analysis of the issue, using the National Survey of Children’s Health. Put another way, 7 percent of all children will have a parent who lived with them go to jail or prison.

The latest figure doesn’t account for the number of children who had a parent not living with them who becomes incarcerated – so the total number of kids with an incarcerated parent is most likely higher. And while the total number of incarcerations has leveled since 2013 after climbing steadily, the number of women incarcerated rose more than 700 percent from 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in 2014, according to a report from The Sentencing Project and figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The reasons for the spike range from expanded law enforcement efforts to stiffer drug sentencing laws. More than 60 percent of women in state prisons have a child under 18.

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