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Beyond the Bars II Who Are the Children of Incarcerated Parents? Charlene Wear Simmons, Ph.D. Acting Interim Director September 23, 2008 C A L I F O R.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond the Bars II Who Are the Children of Incarcerated Parents? Charlene Wear Simmons, Ph.D. Acting Interim Director September 23, 2008 C A L I F O R."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond the Bars II Who Are the Children of Incarcerated Parents? Charlene Wear Simmons, Ph.D. Acting Interim Director September 23, 2008 C A L I F O R N I A R E S E A R C H B U R E A U

2 2 Presentation Outline Data about incarcerated parents and their children Focus on parental arrest Impact on children Local partnerships to ensure that children are safe and cared for by appropriate caregivers.

3 3 Who is Responsible for the Safety and Well-being of the Children? Few law enforcement agencies require officers to ask about children at the time of parental arrest Social welfare agencies may not respond to a parent’s arrest, or know how to locate a parent in prison or arrange for a family visit. Children can fall through the cracks, be traumatized and left in unsafe situations.

4 4 Children’s Stories Amanda: “My sister is 11. It (Mother’s arrest) affects her so much, she’s gone to mental hospitals, she’s tried to kill herself.” Dave: “I was 9 when my mom got arrested. The police came and took her…and just left us here.”

5 5 Rising Incarceration Rate

6 6 More Adults Under Correctional Supervision

7 7 California Adult Prisoners, 2008

8 8 California State Prisons Cost: $9.7 billion for prisoners and parolees in Fiscal Year Average sentence: 4 years Average time served: 2 years Average prisoner’s reading level: 7 th grade 69% from So. Cal, 11% Bay Area, 20% rest of state.

9 9 Most CA State Prisoners are Male

10 10 Prison/Jail is a Revolving Door Nearly 650,000 prisoners are released yearly from state and federal prisons Over 50% nationwide are in legal trouble within 3 years In CA, 2/3 of state prisoners fail parole and are returned to prison Children experience repeated trauma of arrest and separation

11 11 Parental Problems Affect Children

12 12 Many Children Are Affected

13 13 Around 9% of CA children have a parent in prison, jail, on parole or probation

14 14 Minority Kids are Over-Represented

15 15 Children of Inmates Are Young

16 16 Parent and Grandparent Caregivers

17 17 Contact Helps Parents and Children 75% parents incarcerated in state prisons report some contact with their children 70% have received a letter Over half received a phone call 42% had a personal visit

18 18 Parental Arrest Affects the Most Children 1 in 5 children whose mother is arrested witnesses the event, the others imagine Arrest Prison and Parole Jail and Probation

19 19 The Children Can Be “Invisible” When Parents are Arrested Law enforcement officers are focused on making a safe arrest, may leave the children unattended Arrested parents may not mention their children for fear of involving child welfare and having their parental rights terminated

20 20 Children May be Left Without Care or in Unsafe Situations “Dave” I was nine when my mom got arrested. The police came and took her…and just left us here. For two or three weeks, I took care of my one-year-old brother and myself…[My Mom’s] friend across the street…figured out something was wrong.. [and] called CPS…” Megan Mendez, left at age 3 with abusive neighbors in Modesto by her arrested mother, was murdered

21 21 Children Experience Higher Rates of Mental Health Problems Separation and attachment disorders Developmental regression Depression and withdrawal Shame due to stigma Grief at loss of parent, abandonment Anxiety and hyper-arousal Trauma

22 22 Significant Behavioral Impacts Absent Positive Intervention Physical aggression Attention disorder Difficulty sleeping Acting out inappropriately Anti-social behavior Violent, even delinquent behavior Substance abuse

23 23 Potential Negative Impacts on School Performance Attention Deficit Learning Disabilities Diminished academic performance Aggression or withdrawal due to stigma Low level of educational attainment Truancy

24 24 Intergeneration Problems Point to Need for Positive Intervention A parental history of criminality is a strong risk factor for juvenile delinquency Half of parents incarcerated in state prisons have an incarcerated relative (most often a brother or father) One third of parents in prison report that their parents abused drugs or alcohol

25 25 Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Intervene in the same Families Nationally, the criminal justice system has intervened in at least 1 in 3 families with which child welfare agencies have had contact. 25% dependent children in San Francisco are impacted by parental incarceration Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Agencies Need to Partner for the Children

26 26 Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights 1. I have the right TO BE KEPT SAFE AND INFORMED AT THE TIME OF MY PARENT’S ARREST. 3. I have the right TO BE WELL CARED FOR IN MY PARENT’S ABSENCE.

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