Jessica De la Mora 17, last hugged her dad while she was 16. Since 1993, her dad, Mike De La Mora has been re-imprisoned several times, she knows what its like to have an incarcerated parent.
So Mora only used to see her dad when went to visit him. And whenever she felt like holding her dad, they could just put their hands over the glass window and pretend like the glass was nonexistent.
The experience was so sad that tried very hard not to cry during those visits.
Incarcerated parent statistics: What Is The Current Rate Of Parental Incarceration?
Jessica is just one American kid with an incarcerated parent. Statistically:
- Over 2.7-million American children have one parent behind bars.
- One in 9-black children has an imprisoned parent.
- One in 28-Latinx children has an imprisoned parent.
- One in 57-white children has an imprisoned parent.
Ebony Underwood’s father was incarcerated in the 1980s in New Jersey for drug-related charges. Ebony feels like by increasing a member of the family, you usually imprison the whole family.
Ebony among many other advocates, believe that law unfairly punish black families like hers.
She calls kids of inmates an “invisible population,” since they have been omitted from discussions on how to cure the U.S’s prison system.
Conversation to bring about change in the justice system is supposed to be done by those who felt it firsthand. But just like many other victims, Ebony’s own experience wasn’t included in the campaign.
Having and incarcerated parent or a set of imprisoned parents denies the children the services of a caretaker thus brings effects like:
- Mental health issues
- Physical health problems.
- Emotional challenges.
- Children end up in foster care system.
Statistics on female incarceration is making the situation even worse, as:
- Over the last 3-decades female incarceration has increased by at least 700%.
- Black ladies are more than 2-times likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts.
- 80% of female in jails are mothers.
It’s a public feeling that criminal justice system has ignored to recognize parental relationships in its priorities. This is risky as children with imprisoned parents are more likely to be jailed as well.
Caretakers of these kids, (mostly second parent or relatives) struggle with:
- The added economic burdens.
- Emotional challenges of having their loved ones incarcerated.
Her dad was imprisoned when she was 2-years-old. At school, Maye used to see her colleagues with their fathers. When asked, Maye would say her dad was at school, something that everyone knew was a lie.
Up to date, Maye doesn’t know why her father was imprisoned.
Does Society Support Children With an Incarcerated Parent
Schools don’t support such kind of students, either. Instead, schools worsen things by discriminating them, thinking that they’re as “bad” as their imprisoned parents.
Akiya McKnight, 28, is a filmmaker and parental incarceration activist. Akiya’s father was jailed ever since her mom was carrying her pregnancy, till she was 17-years-old.
Akiya’s mother served a 1-year in prison sentence, while she was 14, on a nonviolent drug charge. This prompted Akiya to make a film of 2-black sisters with incarcerated mothers, “Served.”
Patrick, 15, saw his dad jailed while he was 7. He was released when Patrick was 14. Patrick would visit her visit her dad twice a year under efforts of Pain of the Prison System (POPS).
POPS is a Venice High School association for students with incarcerated loved ones. The visitations were emotional that Patrick would just cry over the prisons.
It’s essential that Bill of Rights for Children With Incarcerated Parents, be created to guarantee parent-child contact visits. This would reduce the effects of having jailed parents significantly.
Unfortunately, that might not happen soon, especially with Trump administration that is busy making racially discriminatory drug laws.