The Kids Count Project Director for the Michigan League for Public Policy describes the latest numbers on children with an incarcerated parent as “grim.”
Michigan has one of the highest rates of children with a parent behind bars. Numbers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation show one in ten children in the state have been separated from a parent due to incarceration.
Alicia Guevarra Warren with the Michigan League for Public Policy says incarceration destabilizes children’s lives. She says the numbers demonstrate the need to reduce Michigan’s reliance on incarceration.
Guevarra Warren says the state should also consider programs to help people in prison prepare for life after their release. She says that includes education and training programs, and ensuring that they are not automatically disqualified from employment because of a criminal conviction.
Guevarra Warren says the state should also consider how children can maintain a relationship with a parent who is behind bars. She says proximity to children should be factored in to which correctional facility someone is sent for their sentence.
The children of incarcerated parents may also need support such as counseling. Guevarra Warren says having a parent behind bars is a traumatic event for children, making them more susceptible to conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Guevarra Warren says the report should prompt more conversation about criminal justice reform, and making sure that children get the support and services they need to be successful as they grow up.