Putting parents in prison - and resulting family dysfunction - is contributing to the future prison population. American policy analyst and prison chaplain Samuel K. Aitchison, writing for Patheos, sees the figures speak for themselves.
That the criminal justice system does little to serve the needs of either prison inmates or their families—and thus contributes to its own crime statistics—is hardly news. The literature on the impact of incarceration on families is replete with studies mourning the repetitive criminality of the incarcerated and the sobering prospects for their children.
American statistics indicate that having a parent in prison makes a child five times more likely to end up in prison themselves.
"We know that intact families are a strong contributing factor to prisoners successfully re-entering society. We know that children who are provided a measure of safety, security, and stability generally grow into productive, happy adults. The prison system, as I have experienced it, works completely to undermine both of these ideals."
New Zealand's lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality sees New Zealand having one of the highest prison populations in the western world. Our prisons are overcrowded and there is little opportunity for effective rehabilitation or support to get inmates' lives back on track once they leave prison.
The wider impact on a prisoner's family and growth of potential future criminals needs to be given greater consideration.
Read the rest of Incarcerated Families here