The big picture

The article by Phillips & Bloom discussed the implications for families when a parent is incarcerated; they are extensive and include: learning problems, behavioral issues, health/mental health, and substance abuse issues among others.  This is what I find to be so overwhelming about the consequences of incarceration.  It is not okay to break the law.  I get that.  I believe in respecting authority and the laws that are put in place.  I also agree that there needs to be consequences when laws are not obeyed.  However, the implications for this are generational.  In many families, all it takes is one cycle through the criminal justice system and they are entangled in it for years.  Years that impact their parents quality of life, their children’s quality of life, and their quality of life.  This results in the incarcerated person’s child(ren) growing up without a parent, potentially even starting at birth.  I won’t even get into all the implications that creates such as the likelihood that child is denied an opportunity to create a secure attachment to their biological parent….or even to any adult.  This alone creates all kinds of problems for that child as they go through life…

The bottom line is this.  Children who have an incarcerated parent are likely to be in the care of relatives and have academic, behavior, and emotional problems.  These three variables are largely found among students in an alternative school.   (Alternative schools can serve as an opportunity to graduate and provide protection against one getting in more trouble, for these students that is great.)  However, many of these youth end up in detention centers and eventually the adult criminal justice system.  This is the domino effect of incarceration and a snapshot of the destruction it causes its many victims.



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