The Bureau of Justice reports that the prison system costs taxpayers $80 billion a year to put 2.3 million people behind bars, leaving many youth and families behind to pick up the pieces when a loved one goes away.
These families bear numerous burdens when a loved one becomes incarcerated, including trauma, stigma, shame and isolation. Additionally, they are likely to experience increased financial strain, physical and emotional stress, and lack of external resources.
Approximately 5 million youth have experienced parental incarceration.
Yet, there is an appalling gap in services in meeting the needs of youth with incarcerated parents, creating a massive public health crisis, created by our country's system of mass incarceration. The unique needs of these youth are overlooked and forgotten, as no government agency on the federal, state or local level recognizes this group of youth or takes responsibility for their well-being. Thus, these youth are overlooked, and their needs are unattended to, which leads to a multitude of poor life outcomes and a continuance of the unjust intergenerational cycles of harm and incarceration.
"Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.
Former President of South Africa