Parents Behind Bars
"The growth of incarceration in America has intergenerational impacts that policy makers will have to confront. According to this analysis, more than 1.2 million inmates — over half of the 2.3 million people behind bars — are parents of children under age 18. This includes more than 120,000 mothers and more than 1.1 million fathers. The racial concentration that characterizes incarceration rates also extends to incarcerated parents. Nearly half a million black fathers, for example, are behind bars, a number that represents 40 percent of all incarcerated parents.
"The most alarming news lurking within these figures is that there are now 2.7 million minor children (under age 18) with a parent behind bars. (See Figure 9.) Put more starkly, 1 in every 28 children in the United States — more than 3.6 percent — now has a parent in jail or prison. Just 25 years ago, the figure was only 1 in 125.
"For black children, incarceration is an especially common family circumstance. More than 1 in 9 black children has a parent in prison or jail, a rate that has more than quadrupled in the past 25 years. (See Figure 10.)
"Because far more men than women are behind bars, most children with an incarcerated parent are missing their father.37 For example, more than 10 percent of African American children have an incarcerated father, and 1 percent have an incarcerated mother."
The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, p. 18.