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Children on the outside: Voicing the pain and human costs of parental incarceration

Allard, P. and Greene, J. – 2011

Discusses problems faced by children of incarcerated parents. Provides data on the scope of the problem, noting that the nation’s prison population has grown, due in large part to the “war on drugs” and increased incarceration for drug offenses, particularly among women. Describes the difficulties children and youth experience when a parent is incarcerated, such as decreased sense of safety and stability, educational problems, poverty, drug use, loss of self worth, social stigma, criminal involvement, and various mental health issues resulting from parental absence in the formative years. Notes negative consequences of harsh drug sentencing policies for children and families, and advocates for reforms that emphasize reduced incarceration for nonviolent drug-related crimes and substance abuse treatment options. Cites New York State’s drug law reforms as an example.