It isn’t just the prisoner who serves time. Families and communities suffer along with them. Right now 2.3 million children have a parent taken out of their lives by the prison system. These kids deal with life disruptions – changing homes and schools. Their problems can be compounded by a ‘Conspiracy of Silence’ between schools – churches – and neighborhoods.
Children are often lied to about what’s going on – sometimes denied visitation – and live with shame about their imprisoned family member. They learn to lie about what’s happening to them. They often withdraw from life – and drop out of school. A child with a dad in prison has no better than a 15% chance to graduate from college – with a mom imprisoned a 2% chance. Many of these children experience the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – but there is no organized outreach to take care of them.
In many places the average women’s sentenced time of 18 months is enough separation time to terminate parental rights – and lacking in community support – some of these mothers will never be reunited with their children.