December 10, 2015

Nearly half of American children have parent with criminal record

Center for American Progress - Nearly four decades of mass incarceration and overcriminalization have made the United States the world leader in incarceration and arrests. The number of Americans in federal and state prisons and jails has quintupled over the past four decades—nearly 2.3 million Americans are behind bars today—leaving the U.S. incarceration rate at more than six times the average across developed nations. Communities of color—and particularly, men of color—are hit hardest, with black men six times more likely and Latino men two-and-a-half times more likely to be incarcerated than white men.

An even greater share—between 70 million and 100 million Americans, or as many as one in three American adults—have some type of criminal record. Many have been convicted of only minor offenses, such as misdemeanors—and many only have arrests that never led to a conviction. But whether or not an individual has been incarcerated, having a criminal record often carries a lifetime of consequences, lasting long after someone has paid his or her debt to societ...

Our new analysis estimates that between 33 million and 36.5 million children in the United States—nearly half of U.S. children—now have at least one parent with a criminal record. In this report, we argue that parental criminal records significantly exacerbate existing challenges among low-income parents and their families.

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