EPIDEMIOLOGY AND OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUE
Parents Under Correctional Supervision: National Statistics
Christopher J. Mumola, M.P.A.
Researchers have encountered many difficulties in measuring the number of parents under correctional supervision. Correctional agencies generally do not maintain data on parental status in their offender records, and the agencies serving affected children (e.g., public schools, child welfare agencies) often do not have a way to identify children with incarcerated parents. Given these limitations, the only national measure of this issue has come from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) national surveys of criminal offenders. Data from these personal-interview surveys were presented in the BJS Special Report, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, which will soon be updated with findings from a new round of prison and jail inmate surveys. In this session, the national estimates provided by these surveys will be discussed, as will the personal and criminal backgrounds of these parents. Special attention will be paid to the mental health and substance abuse histories of these incarcerated parents.
Overview of the Issue: Parents in the Criminal Justice System and its Impact on Children and Families
Amy L. Solomon, M.P.P., and Janine M. Zweig, Ph.D.
The American criminal justice system touches the lives of many children and adolescents. Incarceration rates in the United States have increased over the past 20 years, affecting record numbers, including many minor children who are left behind when their parents are sent to prison. A total of 2 percent of all minor children (approximately 7 percent of African-American children) have a parent in prison. When minor children of parents under community supervision are added to this number, a total of 10 percent of children and adolescents—more than 7 million—have parents in jail or prison or on probation or parole.
This large-scale involvement in the criminal justice system disrupts parent-child relationships, alters the networks of familial support, and places additional burdens on governmental services such as schools, foster care, adoption agencies, and youth-serving organizations. The implications of parental contact with the criminal justice system on families and children are not fully understood. This presentation will provide an overview of parents in the criminal justice system (particularly in U.S. prisons and jails) and the domains of impact on children and families.
Criminal Justice, Drug Abuse, HIV, and Health Disparities: Implications for Children
Torrance Stephens, Ph.D.
Because of the HIV risk behaviors of substance abusers, particularly those who have been incarcerated or are part of the criminal justice system, both service delivery and community problems have developed that negatively affect children. The objective of this presentation is to demonstrate the impact of the criminal justice system on racial and ethnic minority communities. Specifically, the impact of the criminal justice system on health disparities in HIV rates, health outcomes, and other problem behaviors will be detailed, highlighting the negative consequences for families and children in these communities. In addition, we will evaluate how the aforementioned issue contributes to racial and ethnic disparities with regard to the overall health of children. Of importance is how these issues contribute to negative health outcomes for youth regardless of whether they are involved in the criminal justice system.