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Children of Prisoners

Children of Prisoners

Facts at a Glance:

  • 75% of women in prison are mothers and 66% have children under age 18.
  • 6% of women entering prison are pregnant.
  • 55% of men in prison are fathers of children under age 18.
  • 32% of men in prison have more than one child under the age of 18.
  • On any given day there are more than 500,000 fathers in prison.
  • Almost 200,000 of children under the age of 18 have an incarcerated mother.
  • More than 1,700,000 children under the age of 18 have an incarcerated father.

Source: Child Welfare League of America, Federal Center for Children of Prisoners, An Overview of Statistics.

Table 1. Estimated # of incarcerated parents in 1999 and its effects.

Estimates for 1999

# of households with minor children affected by the imprisonment of a resident parent

# of parents imprisoned

# of children affected by the imprisonment of a parent

Total

336,300

721,500

1,498,800

Fathers

300,900

667,900

1,372,700

Mothers

35,400

53,600

126,100

State Prison

291,000

642,300

1,324,900

Fathers

259,900

593,800

1,209,400

Mothers

31,100

48,500

115,500

Federal Prison

45,300

79,200

173,900

Fathers

41,000

74,100

163,300

Mothers

4,300

5,100

10,600

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000.

Facts at a Glance:

Facts for 1999:

55% of State prisoners were parents of children under 18

  • 63% of Federal prisoners were parents of children under 18
  • 93% of incarcerated parents were male
  • 89% of incarcerated parents were in State prisons
  • 46% of parents lived with their children before being incarcerated
  • 2.1% of the nation’s children (1,498,800 children) had a parent in State or Federal prison
  • 7.0% of Black children (767,200 children) had a parent in prison
  • 1.6% of Hispanic children (302,600 children) had a parent in prison
  • 0.8% of White children (384,500 children) had a parent in prison

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000.

 

Table 2. Selected characteristics of incarcerated parents of minor children in 1997.

Percent of incarcerated parents in 1997 with the given characteristics

State Prisoners

Federal Prisoners

Gender

 

 

Male

92.6%

93.2%

Female

7.4

6.8

Race/ethnicity

 

 

White (non-Hispanic)

28.9%

21.9%

Black (non-Hispanic)

49.4

44.0

Hispanic

18.9

30.0

Other

2.8

4.0

Age

 

 

24 or younger

15.8%

7.8%

15-34

44.9

41.8

35-44

32.1

35.1

45-54

6.6

12.8

55 or older

0.6

2.5

Marital status

 

 

Married

23.0%

35.8%

Widowed

1.6

1.6

Divorced

20.5

19.0

Separated

7.2

6.0

Never married

47.7

37.6

Education completed

 

 

8th grade or less

12.7%

11.5%

Some high school

27.1

16.7

GED

30.6

27.0

High school graduate

16.1

19.8

Some college or more

13.4

25.0

Employment before current arrest

 

 

Employed

70.9%

73.5%

Unemployed

29.1

26.5

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000. Data is extracted from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.    

Facts at a Glance:

Facts for 1997:

  • 55% of State prisoners were parents of children under 18 (65% of female prisoners, 55% of male prisoners)
  • 63% of Federal prisoners were parents of children under 18 (63% of male prisoners, 59% of female prisoners)
  • 32% of State inmates had more than one child under 18 (45% of women, 31% of men)
  • 39% of Federal inmates had more than one child under 18
  • 32% of children with incarcerated parents were under age 5
  • 58% of children with incarcerated parents were under age 10
  • 46% of incarcerated parents lived with at least one child prior to being imprisoned; 45% of State prisoners and 57% of Federal prisoners
  • 64% of mothers in State prisons and 84% of mothers in Federal prisons lived with their children prior to being incarcerated
  • 44% of fathers in State prisons and 55% of fathers in Federal prisons lived with their children prior to being incarcerated

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000. Data is extracted from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.

 

 

Table 3. Percent of parents in prison who lived with their minor children prior to being incarcerated, by gender, 1997.

 

State Prison

Federal Prison

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Percent of parents who lived with their children at time of arrest

45.3

43.8

64.3

57.2

55.2

84.0

Child's current caregiver:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child’s other parent

85.0

89.6

28.0

87.6

91.7

30.7

Child’s grandparent

16.3

13.3

52.9

12.2

9.8

44.9

Child’s other relatives

6.4

4.9

25.7

6.2

4.2

33.9

Foster home or agency

2.4

1.8

9.6

1.3

1.1

3.2

Other (includes child

living alone)

5.3

4.9

10.4

6.8

6.4

11.9

1. The following columns may add up to more than 100% as some parents had several children and the children lived with different caregivers.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000. Data is extracted from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.

 

Table 4. Frequency of contact by incarcerated parents with their children, by gender, 1997.

 

State Prison

Federal Prison

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Any contact

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily

10.1

9.5

17.8

15.1

14.6

21.1

Once a week

31.2

30.3

42.4

43.7

43.4

48.5

Once a month

22.2

22.6

18.0

23.8

23.9

22.0

Less than once a month

16.1

16.6

9.7

10.0

10.3

5.0

Never

20.4

21.1

12.2

7.5

7.8

3.3

Telephone

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily

6.6

6.2

11.3

13.0

12.8

15.0

Once a week

19.8

19.2

27.0

36.3

35.9

41.2

Once a month

16.5

16.6

15.3

23.2

23.1

24.9

Less than once a month

15.4

15.5

13.8

11.3

11.4

9.2

Never

41.8

42.5

32.6

16.2

16.7

9.7

Mail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily

4.8

4.4

9.6

4.3

3.9

9.5

Once a week

23.2

22.2

35.6

30.4

30.0

35.9

Once a month

23.1

23.3

20.6

30.4

30.5

27.8

Less than once a month

18.2

18.6

13.2

18.9

19.2

14.5

Never

30.8

31.6

21.0

16.1

16.4

12.3

Personal visits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily

0.8

0.7

1.1

0.4

0.3

0.9

Once a week

6.6

6.5

8.0

7.1

7.1

6.6

Once a month

13.9

13.8

14.7

15.1

15.3

12.0

Less than once a month

22.2

22.2

22.1

33.4

33.0

38.5

Never

56.6

56.8

54.1

44.1

44.2

42.0

1. The following columns may add up to more than 100% as some parents had several children and the children lived with different caregivers.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000. Data is extracted from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.

 

Table 5. Personal income of incarcerated parents in the month before the arrest, by gender, 1997.

 

State Prison

Federal Prison

Total

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Less than $200

16.5%

16.0%

22.9%

16.5%

16.2%

20.6%

$200-$599

20.5

19.9

28.4

14.4

13.8

23.6

$600-$999

16.9

16.7

18.7

15.8

15.4

21.6

$1,000-$1,999

24.4

25.1

16.7

23.8

24.1

19.4

$2,000-$4,999

13.4

13.9

7.7

14.4

14.8

8.2

$5,000 or more

8.2

8.4

5.6

15.1

15.7

6.6

1. The following columns may add up to more than 100% as some parents had several children and the children lived with different caregivers.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children by Christopher J. Mumola, August 2000. Data is extracted from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.