As the number of imprisoned adults increases every year, so does the number of parents leaving behind children. A 2008 study showed that thirty-two percent of men in prison had two or more children under the age of 18 years old. Fifty-eight percent of the children with an incarcerated parent were under the age of ten years. State and federal inmates reported an estimated 1,706,600 minor children who are often cared for by grandparents who can have difficulties raising young children—particularly those children with emotional and behavioral problems. A more recent (2014) statistic states there are more than 2.7 million children in the U.S. who have at least one incarcerated parent.
How Detrimental is having a Parent in Prison?
In fact, there is no single story, which describes what it is like for the child when a parent goes to prison. There are many factors which will determine just how detrimental having a parent in prison really is to the children. The child’s age at the time of the incarceration, the degree of stability following the incarceration, and the quality of the parent-child relationship prior to the incarceration are all factors.
Some human rights advocates have deemed parental incarceration as “the greatest threat to child well-being in the U.S.” When a child is separated from a parent due to incarceration, it can be as painful as actually losing a parent to death or abandonment. There are additional complications associated with parental incarceration due to the stigma and lack of social support for the children. Children of incarcerated parents often make something up when asked what their parent does for a living due to the heavy stigma against those in prison.
Increases in Incarceration of Mothers
While the population of those incarcerated in the United States is largely male, the number of female prisoners has increased more than 800 percent over the past three decades. Because women are more likely to be the caretakers for their children, incarceration of mothers can be particularly detrimental. Two-thirds of all female inmates are in prison for a non-violent offense, and non-violent offenders are more likely to have children.
Sadly, poverty also plays a significant role in parental incarceration. Many offenders cannot afford legal help following an arrest, which increases their odds of landing in jail or prison. The innocent children of jailed parents can become sick, both mentally and physically, can experience hunger and homelessness, and can fail at school due to parental incarceration. These children may lose trust in all adults, becoming withdrawn or aggressive. The children may be unable to concentrate on what they need to be doing in school, leading to plummeting grades.
Increasing Your Chances of Staying Out of Prison and With Your Children
Parents who are facing criminal charges must not only think about their own future, but also about the future of their children. Having an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney by your side from start to finish can make all the difference in the eventual outcome of your charges. Of course no one wants to end up behind bars, but if you will be leaving children behind, it is that much more crucial that you speak to an attorney who will fight hard for your rights and your ability to continue to parent your children. Children need their parents in their lives much more than on visiting day at the prison or jail. Don’t leave your future and the future of your children to chance—speak to a knowledgeable Colorado criminal defense attorney today.
Contact Our Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to understand the ramifications of being convicted. Being sent to prison doesn’t just affect you, it affects your children, your family, and everyone who loves you. As such, you need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer on your side from the very start. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.