From Foster Homes to Prison Walls

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Life is filled with moments strung together by the images and memories of the ones we love walking beside us.

Resources for Children of Prisoners

Family forms the basis of our identity, the most foundational institution that government should aim to uphold and protect. Many of us remember or look forward to these notable times in our lives with a smile. Treasured photos help us relive these moments when life is hard, but what if a loved one was missing from these pictures? What if whole albums of your life did not exist because the memories never had a chance to actually form?

Instead, the trajectory of your life could have been shaped by a starkly different reality. Maybe your dad was never even in the picture, and your mom, the only stable caregiver in your life, is being sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Foster parents who starved child sentenced to 5-10 years in jail

Your memories may now include short stays with your ailing grandmother or an aunt before bouncing from foster home to foster home. Quick reunions with your parent are marked by long drives and sometimes humiliating search procedures.

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Approximately 2. More than half of those incarcerated have a child under the age of 18, with over 1. The negative impact of parental incarceration is particularly concentrated in minority communities - one in nine African American children lose their parent to the criminal justice system.


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When their parent does return home, it may be too late for daddy-daughter dances or having Mom cheer you on during the big game. The relationship may never be the same — too much time may have passed, or the road to healing may simply seem impassable.


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  • In a study, men incarcerated after becoming a father were According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics , approximately 42 percent of incarcerated parents in state prisons reported having been visited by their child, and 55 percent of parents incarcerated in federal prisons reported a visit with their child. While around 40 percent of people incarcerated in state justice systems are located miles away from their home, the average person incarcerated in the federal justice system is sent miles away from home , making visitation increasingly difficult and expensive.

    Higher levels of reported parental visitation with children in the federal justice system may be due to large variations in the stringency of state visitation policies.


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    • Additionally, parents incarcerated in state prisons were less likely than parents incarcerated in federal prisons to have lived with their children a month before or immediately prior to incarceration. This finding suggests that parent-child relationships among this population may have been further strained prior to incarceration, on average, than parent-child relationships experienced by those imprisoned in a federal facility, ultimately making child visitation more unlikely.

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      The list of negative effects that may result from parental incarceration is long and dismal — child homelessness , financial insecurity , low mental health , early childhood grade retention , stigmatization , social exclusion , and increased aggression , to name a few. Although American children are predominantly losing their fathers to incarceration, maternal incarceration is also becoming more common. Regardless, children with incarcerated parents are losing critical social bonds necessary for healthy child and adolescent development. Low-quality and unstable care from a new caregiver can result in additional pain and impact the future success of these children, particularly in regards to future contact with the justice system, as children with incarcerated parents are estimated to be three times more likely to commit a crime and become involved with the justice system than their peers without incarcerated parents.

      Their childhood trauma multiplies when the negative experience of parental absence from daily living is exacerbated by jail or prison visitation practices that reinforce parental separation, such as those which allow children to see their parents led away to cells and searched or those which prevent physical contact between child and parent.

      Manual From Foster Homes to Prison Walls

      In some cases, children themselves seem to be treated as prisoners, with long waiting times, crowded visitation rooms hardly suited for meaningful reunions, and uncomfortable body search procedures. While safety should remain a priority, successful visitation policy should account for the possible negative effects on children and family bonding.

      When visitation procedures and policies are constructed thoughtfully, children may experience greater emotional security and struggle less with misbehavior in school. High St. Skip to main content. Search form Search. Combs sentencing concluding Tuesday.

      A Tangle of Problems Links Prison, Foster Care

      Dearborn County Register. Yes, you read that correctly - not even hugs are allowed under the "no physical contact" rule that still exists in some group homes today. Either way, there are many kids in foster care not living in a family setting, even though that would be best for their development. Justin M. A family [placement] might need to worry about 3 to 4 youth. When staff are so busy trying to manage a huge group of kids, one kid's needs gets pushed aside.

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      This can lead to many kids leaving group homes ill-prepared for adulthood. Group placements cost 7 to 10 times more than placing a child with a family. Jaylon says his foster care worker used group homes as a threat. Jaylon said being there was scary.