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Parental Mass Incarceration and the Mental Effects on Our Youth

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Abstract

This paper will look at the effects of mass incarceration on black families and children of school age that encounter parental incarceration. Not only does this put a strain on the child but great stress is put on the alternate caregiver. The alternative caregiver is the one that has to deal with these created behaviors as well as come up with an intervention. These problems created can include some if not all of the following: behavioral, emotional, and mental instabilities. The concern is that this trauma increases the risks of criminal activity, antisocial behaviors, causes educational issues, and financial distress. Mass Incarceration and its effects are strongly felt in minority families and communities. This paper will look at this issue from the school-aged child.

The Problem of Mass Incarceration

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Over the years an increase in minority arrests has continued to rise. This issue has come to affect communities, families, and children in the minority more than anything. A contributing factor would be racial profiling which increases the number of stops in many instances because of bias, demographics, and prejudice. America has a higher rate of incarceration because the penal system is not therapy focused. The American penal system is focused on punishment which has caused charges that should be minor produce maximum sentences of execution. This misappropriation causes a system to fail people than any other country. Although people are incarcerated for many reasons, the country’s prisons are focused on punishment rather than reform, and the result is a misguided system that fails to rehabilitate criminals or discourage crime. By researching mass incarceration the African-American incarceration rate in 2015 was higher than any other race Black was 1 out of 43, Latino was 1 out 143, White was 1 out 342

Incarcerating more people didn’t cure a problem it created more of a problem. This has created stigmas and stereotypes that have come to plague entire races far beyond just the one being incarcerated… This has destroyed families, kept those from getting jobs, and education, and has created a legacy of issues in the children of these that have been incarcerated. According to Sykes, Bryan & Pettit, Becky. (2014). Mass Incarceration, Family Complexity, and the Reproduction of Childhood Disadvantage. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 654. 127-149. 10.1177/0002716214526345. “America is responsible for a quarter of the world’s inmates, and its incarceration rate is increasing exponentially What once was a rare event is now experienced by a substantial number of American school-aged children, with recent estimates indicating that around one in every fourteen minors, or 7 percent of all children nationwide, has had a parent or family member at some point in their lives were under one form of correctional supervision or another.” Not only is this devastating for the families but the overcrowded penal system costs to tax payers a staggering 80 billion dollars a year.

The Effect of Mass Incarceration in our Communities

Our penal system is labeled as a rehabilitation program but many come out only to find themselves in a position that makes one feel subhuman. Not only do they suffer but the community also suffers from these mentalities. Many are set up for failure when reintroduced into society. They are faced with homelessness, lack of a support system, people won’t hire them, and they have no rights Because of this many end up recommitting crimes to survive or not being able to deal with these negatives go back to jail because it’s easier there (Institutionalized). According to Alexander, M. (2011). The New Jim Crow. New York, NY: New Press. “A system of rules exist. These laws, policies, and practices trap people in second class status. These legislative actions such as The War on Drugs and Stop and Frisk allowed non-violent offenses to enter them into systems. Once they enter into these systems they receive much more severe consequences than others and are usually given felonies. At a young age, they have already lost the battle even before they get started. These systems of law that have been put into place as a result of a political system have found it convenient to scapegoat and demonize poor folks of color for the political gain of a few. Alexander, M. (2011). The New Jim Crow. New York, NY: New Press. Then our communities, schools, and law enforcement are left to deal with these issues. 76.6 % of released inmates will return to prison. Consequently, society is being asked to pay for millions of prison sentences that are truly not rehabilitating inmates.

The Effects of Mass Incarceration on our Children

When parents are removed from the home for any reason especially if it’s the primary parent children will suffer. The younger the child the greater the mental effects on the child. The short term effects of this may be withdrawn from everyday routines. The reality is this is as traumatic to a child as death when it first happens. This can also cause a child to have abnormal behaviors or an increase in behaviors due to this experience. Mentally a child can begin to experience depression, regret, aggressive behaviors, and anxiety. In the long term, a child may exhibit criminal behaviors themselves. These actions can grow even greater if there is no support system or family that can step in and take over for the parent.

What Happens If We Don’t Fix Mass Incarceration

Being an African American male this is truly an issue for me. I see so many that have been removed from leadership, family, and our community because of this. I see young men growing up without fathers in their lives. Women can teach a young man what they desire in a man but can not teach them how to become a man. In any culture the man is pivotal and I have generations coming behind me that believe that this their fate. No matter how hard they work and no matter what they accomplish a moment, a simple traffic stop can change or end their lives. This has caused a great war between authorities and races. Just as I want to see my child make it home I desire to see them make it home. One must understand the negative always begets negative. We should respect our authorities not fear our authorities.

Defining the Key Terms

Mass incarceration – Mass is the correct terminology when you look at the devastating effects. Entire communities, whole families, and many of the men in certain races have fallen victim. Mass incarceration has developed into racial profiling and has infiltrated the minority communities in this nation. These policies have crippled the mentalities and lives of the people that are affected by these policies. People should be responsible for their actions but when a system is developed that traffic stops a larger percentage of a particular race you will have a greater number of arrests in a particular race. Then you have a greater number of these people that have a higher rate of being sentenced and receive greater consequences for lesser crimes.

Mass Incarceration and Effects

This issue weakens the structure of families, churches, and children. Mass incarceration has affected the stability of families by incarcerating the men. This has caused an increase of mothers that have to depend on government assistance. This has created generations of those that have learned this behavior. The legal systems continue to have a devastating impact on the communities. These communities are without leadership, fathers, and this issue has permanently removed the men from being able to fulfill these positions. that are affected by residents. At the same time, however, the paper does find support for the contention that incarceration leads to reductions in crime in affected communities.

Mass Incarceration and Effects on Children

Some children deal with the nightmare of seeing a parent by force being secured. These experiences cause trauma and trauma lead to not only short term issues but long term as well. These stressors can lead to ADD, behavioral disorders, depression, anti-social behaviors, aggression, withdrawal, and low self-esteem issues. These traumas can lead to mental health and learning disability issues.

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