We always try to cherish and protect women and children – until the women are in prison, then this isn’t the case. It’s important to note that Diane Dimond isn’t soft on women that have committed crimes, but she says that there is a serious issue with “generational incarceration.” As a society, she says, we aren’t doing much to stop it from happening.
Stats on Children of Inmates in the US
The United States has been seeing a rise of over 500% in the number of inmates in prisons and jails since 1980. Surprisingly, women are the fastest growing group of prisoners, with numbers that have increased by 700%.
Right now, 1.2 million women are under criminal supervision of some kind. This makes up state or federal prisons, jail, and probation or parole. About 2/3 of those women are mothers, and many of them just happen to be single. That’s a lot of children that are left without a parent.
Studies show that the kids of parents who are incarcerated are much more likely to be expelled from school, and abuse drugs and alcohol. They are also more likely to go to prison or jail themselves.
Ending the School to Prison Pipeline
This cycle needs to end, and to a child, being able to continue having contact with a parent that loves them might be the very thing that saves them. It’s also the thing that the justice system denies kids.
One New York-based nonprofit organization has joined with Teen Vogue magazine to create videos that feature women who used to be in prison, as well as the grown daughters of inmates who are convicted and still in prison.
The conversations are honest and raw, and for many, a bit shocking.
In the videos, there are stories of the lack of dignity for prisoners seeing their children, and the struggles that many children faced in seeing their imprisoned mothers. For many of these kids, who are left living with family members or in foster homes, seeing their moms in prison just isn’t an option.
If we want to break the cycle of seeing generations incarcerated, then we need to start with kids whose moms are in prison. This is just one initial step towards doing your part to end the school to prison pipeline in America.