LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In the incarceration debate, we think of a convict’s sentence, we think of a convict’s rehabilitation. But do we pay enough attention to the children left behind?
According to a new kids count report using survey data from 2011 and 2012, 10 percent of Michigan children have had a parent incarcerated. That’s more than 200,000 kids with a parent away from home.
Michigan State’s Dr. Jed Magen says when mom or dad does the crime, too often it’s their children doing the time.
“There’s all the stigma associated with ‘your parent’s a criminal.’ You’ve got the self-image problems…. That leads to things like depression and acting out in school.”
Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, says the change ripples during children’s formative years.
“Not having that parent at a game… watch a movie together… having that actual bond and that relationship with a parent is lost.”
What’s worse, prison visits are far from simple. But this is where policy change and government help can make a difference.
“Providing transportation … and helping them get over those costs that come with the logistics of seeing somebody … you know your parent who might be 100 some miles away,” Guevara Warren added.
In addition to the loss of a parent, the income loss in the home is significant—creating more strain on the family and government services.