Children in the US With a Parent Who Has Ever Been Incarcerated

"The increase in U.S. incarceration rates means that a sizable number of children experience parental incarceration. Between 5 million and 8 million children have had a resident parent (most often a father) incarcerated in jail, state prison, or federal prison, and this number excludes children with parents under other forms of correctional supervision such as probation or parole (Murphey & Cooper, 2015). A growing research literature conceptualizes parental incarceration as an adverse childhood experience (ACE) with considerable deleterious consequences for children's wellbeing (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). Children exposed to parental incarceration, compared to their counterparts not exposed to parental incarceration, experience disadvantages across behavioral, educational, and health outcomes (for reviews, see Foster & Hagan, 2015; Johnson & Easterling, 2012; Murray, Farrington, & Sekol, 2012).

"Importantly, given social inequalities in exposure to criminal justice contact, many children of incarcerated parents are a demographically and socioeconomically disadvantaged group even prior to the experience of parental incarceration. For example, parental incarceration is more common among children of disadvantaged race/ethnic groups; about one-fourth (24%) of Black children and one-tenth (11%) of Hispanic children experience parental incarceration by age 17, compared to 4% of White children (Sykes & Pettit, 2014). Parental incarceration is also concentrated among children living in households with incomes below the poverty line, children of unmarried parents, and children residing in disadvantaged neighborhoods (Foster & Hagan, 2015; Wakefield & Wildeman, 2013)."


Kristin Turney, Adverse childhood experiences among children of incarcerated parents, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 89, 2018, Pages 218-225, ISSN 0190-7409,