Last Updated 04 Jul 2021

The Growth of Incarceration in the United States

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Massive imprisonments have affected the life of the young people. It has overwhelmingly restructured the life of many, not only to men, but their families too. Intensive research carried out in the last decade explicitly shows the results of parental incarceration for many children in the United States of America. On focusing on the health outcome, it has greatly increased inequality of children health within the state and other developed democracies. Children, whose parents are involved in such acts, in particular undergo host most challenges and difficulties.

Some of the challenges herein include; psychological torture, economic hardship, antisocial behavior. Because of economic crisis that they face, they are sometimes suspended or expelled from schools. In this case, they sometime even end up in criminal activities. Most importantly, the incarceration of either of the parents has also led to separation of the couples, leaving the children behind without either of the parents.

Because of these problems, various pathways have been designed to help reduce the problems. For example, these children and their imprisoned parents are followed up during the period of imprisonment through post-prison period to help the two families be in touch always.

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Also, the children affected are looked after in homes and schools to ensure that they access all the basic needs as well as furthering their education. The parent left behind is also advised always and allowed to visit the imprisoned partner so that they get in touch always. Most importantly, it is recommended that culture play a very instrumental part in shaping the life of a child. In this case, the role of enslaved parent`s culture and ethnic background are to be given more priority so that the children are kept on the right track. They are taken to places where they can learn their culture in the absence of their parents.

The Scope of the Problem

Increased incarceration in the United States has been publicized for long. Today, there are nearly a 2.3million of the US population which are undergoing the same. More appealingly, mothers and fathers having children which are dependant are in prison. The rate of children with imprisoned mother has greatly increased by a higher percentage as opposed to fathers due to the war on drugs which began in the 1980s. The latest research shows that the parenthood is equally the same and most of the US children are raised by single parents. Thus, when either of the parents is imprisoned, there is more likelihood that the children will experience separation from their mothers as opposed to their fathers. Great impacts have been realized on the side of the children and these have affected them by a great margin.

The problem has resulted to a lot of impact to the children. It has led to conspiracy of silence. It is very difficult for the child to adapt and cope with the neighboring environment in the absence of the parent. Children need honest and factual information. The only person who can do this is the paternal parent. They need to have their experience validated. When they are provided with reliable and dependable information, they are allowed to have a sense of the real situation and are likely to forget about the absence of their parent. This makes them cope with the new environment. Silence makes them have prolonged thinking about the absence of the parent, which may lead to negative reaction on their side.

The both between the child and the parent are likely to reduce. Parental incarceration is likely to affect the attachment quality between the child and the parent. In circumstances when the child is still young, the poor relationship between them is likely to lead to poor peer relationships and diminished cognitive abilities. Children are mainly taught the first language by their mothers and their absence makes them not to develop most of their cognitive abilities. In fact, high percentage of children whose mothers are imprisoned, experience a lot of emotional and psychological problems. They also show signs of somatic problems like anxiety, depression, shame and even guilt because they lack the parental care. On the other hand, they exhibit externalizing characters like anger, hostility and aggression towards other siblings who have both of their parents.

The children going to school exhibit school-related problems. They also encounter problems related with peer relationships. Because of lack of concentration in school, they attain poor grades. Such children have poor or little concentration p as opposed to other children who are having both parents. The fact that they might be experiencing hardship at home makes them think a lot while in the classroom set up. In the same line, they exhibit a lot of changes during the adolescent stage. Because the parent is not around to guide the children on the physical and emotional changes, they end up in spoilage. In this case, most of them drop out of school because of the unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. On the same regard, influence from the peer makes some these children to drop out of school and join bad companies which eventually ruin their lives completely.

Because these children lack control from home, they are likely to develop some anti-social behaviors. The antisocial mannerisms in this case include theft, prostitution, burglary, conning, among many other unethical characters. Such behaviors are developed because the child has full control over him or herself and in order to curb the overwhelming situation inside him or her, he has to indulge into such acts. He stands a high position not to be able to control his emotions and can easily get into criminal acts like fighting too. The influence from bad company makes the child even to run away from home and join the street. Most of the children loitering in the cities are not as a result of their likeness. High percentages of them have parents, but imprisoned. Because of this, they are dissolution with life and they have no hope for the future. The only alternative is to end up being street urchin.

Policy Alternatives

The separation of parent and the child during imprisonment is very detrimental to the relationship between the parent and the child. There are series of innovative and policies put by the US government to help the child and the mother remain together during some portion of the period when in prison. There has been inaction of prison nurseries schools where such children are taken to learn. In these schools, the affected children with their mothers and this make them feel as if they are just at home all the time. Also, the mothers who give birth while in the prison raises their infants in such institutions; this has had a long history within the United State. On the same, mothers are allowed to stay together with their children and even celebrate memorable events like birthdays.

Most importantly, parenting programs have been enacted. In this program, only mothers who can release children after one and a half years are allowed to participate. Such mothers provide parenting and child development classes. The program is day care like where the child is taught the cognitive abilities. This enables the child to grow close to the mother and the mother-child bond is felt most of the time. The negative effect of this is that the child is not allowed to move to the prison areas and this deters the child to be with the paternal mother always.
Another promising approach is having direct intervention with the children whose parents are imprisoned. This program mainly aims the adolescents. Moist of the children in this stage feel isolated, shame, low self-esteem.

Through this program, they meet their peers having the same problems, and here, they grow together regarding the absence of the parents. The mentors and parents in this case, direct them in making positive choices in life, setting their life goals. They are also given support system, which enable them to promote good understanding among themselves. Intervening program is very pivotal because it enable most of the children at childhood stage to avoid deviant trajectory, which most of them end up following when not directed properly.

Policy Recommendations

There is serious need to make advance progress in understanding the issues regarding parental imprisonment. The policy recommends that the parents who get involved in such acts to be identified before so that pre-existing conditions to be identified and the good relationships be created too. This would help in disentangling the impact of imprisonment on the conditions of the families and children. There is also need for direct assessment to the children. Looking after the children while at home and in school is very important. Evaluating their psychological and emotional change would help the mentor to advise the child accordingly so that the child can be evaded from some weird behavior that may ruin his or her life at tender age.

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The Growth of Incarceration in the United States. (2019, Jul 26). Retrieved from

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