Roughly 1 in 9 black children you pass on the street has or has had a parent in prison, according to a recent study by Maryland-based research firm Child Trends.
David Murphey, a Child Trends senior research scientist and co-author of the report, said, “This is a significant group of kids, and their needs are great,” according to the Washington Post. “The debate is too often all about the people in prison. We’d do well to shine a light on the collateral effects—the families.”
The report, “Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children?,” concluded that some 5 million kids have or have had one parent behind bars at some point in their young lives.
Generally, about 1 in 100 U.S. adults are currently in prison or jail, according to 2012 statistics from a Bureau of Justice Statistics s report, “Correctional Populations in the United States.”
Child Trends researchers say they support proper punishment for the guilty and tough sentences for violent offenders. Their data does, however, reveal some alarming trends: Children with incarcerated parents tend to grow up impoverished, receive lousy educations, and suffer from the social trauma associated with losing a parent to prison.
These social maladies are, in turn, met with controversial government policies, namely President Obama’s Department of Justice’s plan to grant the early release of about 6,000 convicts from prison—the largest scheduled release of federal prisoners in American history—and also the Federal Communications Commission’s new proposal to limit inmate phone charges.