A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities

A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities

Millions of children in the United States suffer long-term negative effects on their development and well-being as a consequence of the incarceration of a parent, a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds. According to the report, A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Famlies and Communities (20 pages, PDF), young children with an incarcerated parent — typically children from low-income families of color headed by a single mother with limited education — are often traumatized by family destabilization, financial hardship, relocation, separation, and/or a lack of sympathy or support from others during their critical early years. Such trauma can increase mental health issues like depression and anxiety and negatively affect educational achievement, which in turn can contribute to the cycle of poverty, crime, poor-quality housing, and low-performing schools in low-income communities. To address the needs of these children, the report calls on correctional systems, communities, and state and local agencies to create support systems that stabilize and reunify families during and after incarceration and remove barriers to employment and housing for formerly incarcerated parents.