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Children With Incarcerated Parents

             "A common phrase in the juvenile criminal justice field is if it were not for the parents, the kids would be fine The state does a fine job of allowing parents to screw up their kids. Children need a stable and nurturing environment and visiting mom and dad in the pen every two weeks is more damaging than the state will ever attempt to admit." --Bob Selby, Police Officer, Ames, IA.
             The past 25 years the number of persons becoming incarcerated has increased drastically in the United States. This increase has been due largely to the use of arrest and incarceration in the war on drugs to reduce the demand for illegal substances (Phillips & Bloom 1998). The US Department of Justice stated "the number of minor children with an imprisoned father rose 58 percent from 1991 through 1999, compared to a 98 percent increase during the same time period for the number of minors with an imprisoned mother". It is estimated that between 75-78% of the women in prison have children and that 6-10 percent of the women entering prison are pregnant (Phillips & Bloom; AIUSA 1999). This vast increase in incarceration has lead to the displacement of many children. Currently there is an estimated 1.5 million children with an incarcerated parent, along with many thousands more that have had a parent in jail/prison at some point in their lives (Seymour 1998). This paper will examine the current lack of policies for children with incarcerated parents, the effects of parental incarceration on the children, and two types of families affected by incarceration. .
             Policy .
             In 1997 the Child Welfare League of America confirmed that few child welfare agencies have enacted policies to specifically for children of incarcerated parents. Out of the 38 states that responded to their survey only six reported having specific policies designed for children whose parents have been incarcerated. Most of the policies that the states have involve helping facilitate visits between incarcerated parents and children.

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