Incarceration’s Toll on Communities

Posted April 29, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog incarcerationstolloncommunities 2016

Casey’s new KIDS COUNT report on parental incar­cer­a­tion, A Shared Sen­tence, high­lights that chil­dren and fam­i­lies aren’t the only ones to expe­ri­ence stress and insta­bil­i­ty when a par­ent is behind bars — their com­mu­ni­ties also feel the blow.

In fact, incar­cer­a­tion fur­ther under­mines com­mu­ni­ties that are often already mired in pover­ty and grap­pling with inad­e­quate schools, resources and hous­ing options, par­tic­u­lar­ly those neigh­bor­hoods where a siz­able por­tion of res­i­dents are in prison or jail. The sheer num­ber of absent peo­ple can con­strain an entire community’s access to oppor­tu­ni­ty — includ­ing indi­vid­u­als who have nev­er been incarcerated.

The report shares ideas for trans­form­ing these com­mu­ni­ties into safe and nur­tur­ing envi­ron­ments where kids can grow and thrive.

The Foundation’s rec­om­men­da­tions include: 

  • offer­ing incen­tives for hous­ing author­i­ties and pri­vate land­lords to lift restric­tions on peo­ple with records so that fam­i­lies can remain in or access safe, afford­able housing;
  • train­ing prop­er­ty man­agers and case­work­ers to ensure they prop­er­ly inter­pret hous­ing poli­cies to enable for­mer­ly incar­cer­at­ed par­ents to live with their fam­i­lies, as appropriate;
  • devel­op­ing eco­nom­ic inclu­sion and anchor insti­tu­tion poli­cies that pro­mote the hir­ing and train­ing of for­mer­ly incar­cer­at­ed indi­vid­u­als; and
  • strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions and pro­grams to bet­ter address the needs of kids and fam­i­lies deal­ing with the chal­lenges of incarceration.

Learn more about how parental incar­cer­a­tion affects kids, fam­i­lies and communities.

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