The effect on families when parents or children develop drug and alcohol addictions that land them in jail is serious, indeed. According to the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics, the numbers are startling:
- Almost 1.6 million children in the United States have a father in prison. About 46 percent of them are children with African American fathers.
- About 11 percent of African American children have at least one incarcerated parent. That’s 1.2 million American children.
- About 3.5 percent of Latino children have a parent in jail.
- Less than one percent of white children have a parent in jail.
Fathers and Mothers in Prison
Racial implications, socio-economic implications – these factors can create an environment for the child in which drug addiction and eventual imprisonment are almost expected. Most incarcerated parents are male, about 92 percent; the rest are women. About four in 10 incarcerate fathers are black, two in 10 are white and two in 10 are Latino.
Racially, the numbers shift when women are considered. About 48 percent of mothers in prison are white, 28 percent are African American and 17 percent are Latina. About 147,000 children have a mother in prison, and 45 percent of them have a white mother while 30 percent have an African American mother and 19 percent have a Latina mother.
Drug Offenses and Parents in Jail
Imprisonment for drug offenses are the most common charges among incarcerated men, while women are most often locked up for drug offenses and fraud. Some argue that having a parent in prison means that children see the negative consequences of drug addiction and drug abuse and are forewarned. Most, however, say that having a parent in jail normalizes the issue and makes it that much more acceptable to a child when they have the opportunity to experiment and begin to abuse drugs themselves.
Additionally, children of parents incarcerated for drug offenses are often raised in single parent homes or with extended family members. With less supervision, it’s easier for children to get away with skipping school and to make other choices that enable early drug abuse. This early drug abuse leads to adult drug addiction and the possibility of following in their parents’ footsteps – right into the court room.
Getting Help for Drug Addiction – Before It Leads to Prison
Though some states offer the opportunity for drug offenders to go to drug rehab, not all do and there are always mitigating circumstances. Before your drug addiction puts you in front of judge, take steps to get the treatment you need. Call us today for more information.