It’s Holding Us All Back

When America’s families are disconnected, our communities and country can’t reach their full potential. The negative impacts of America’s incarceration crisis keep America from pushing forward to a stronger, safer, and more prosperous future.

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Families affected by incarceration face steep financial burdens imposed by fines, fees, bail, loss of income, and missed child support.

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As of 2011, the total amount of criminal justice debt in the U.S. owed by individuals amounted to around $50 billion.

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The loss of a family's primary income source is highly destabilizing and can push families into financial disaster.

Nearly two in three families (65 percent) were found to be unable to meet basic needs such as food, housing, and medical care while their family member was incarcerated. * according to the Ella Baker Center

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The trauma of having an immediate family member incarcerated exacts a heavy toll on the physical and mental health of parents, spouses, and children.

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Having a family member who has been incarcerated has been shown to increase the risk of numerous health outcomes including depression, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

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Family bonds suffer, too. This incarceration crisis impacts the stability of American families and undermines efforts to keep families together.

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Paying a visit to an incarcerated family member isn’t quite the same. Or, in many cases, isn’t even possible.

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23.9% - Only 1 out of 4 people with an incarcerated family member was ever able to visit. | 49% - For people whose family member was incarcerated for a year or more, that rose but only to 49%.
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And even if families are able to visit, the experience is most often described as...

Restrictive, Hell, Disgusting, Uneasy, Terrible, Dark, Cold, Horrible, Degrading, Scary
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  • Wildeman, Christopher, Alyssa Goldman, and Kristin Turney. 2018. “Parental Incarceration and Child Health in the United States.” Epidemiologic Reviews 40:146-156

  • Wildeman, Christopher, Alyssa Goldman, and Hedwig Lee. “Health Consequences of Family Member Incarceration for Adults in the Household.” Public Health Reports (Forthcoming).

1 in 2 adults in America has had a family member in jail or prison.

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