Issues and Facts
  • Report Details Economic Costs of Incarceration on Families

    Posted on   9/16/2015  10:53 AM

    The challenges facing children when their fathers, mothers or both are incarcerated are immense. Unfortunately, those problems continue when their parents return home from their correctional institutions.

    A new report shows: The costs and penalties associated with incarceration continue long after the individual completes the sentence – and they affect entire families and communities, according to research from Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design. 

    Based on a survey of more than a thousand former inmates and their families, the report, Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families, found, as detailed in Philanthropy News Digest:

    -- 20 percent of families surveyed were forced to go into debt to cover attorney and court fees and fines — which averaged $13,607 — as well as phone charges and visitation costs.

    -- 48 percent of families with an incarcerated member were unable to afford restitution and attorney fees.

    -- 65 percent were unable to meet basic needs such as paying for food (49 percent) and housing (48 percent).

    -- 67 percent of former prisoners were unemployed or underemployed five years after their release.

    In addition, incarcerated individuals and their families faced an array of latent costs including mental health support, care for untreated physical ailments, the impact on children sent to foster care or extended family, permanent declines in income, and loss of educational and employment opportunities.

    We’ve seen the reality of what this survey found from serving our children and their families across Florida for more than seven years. Many of our families already suffered from poverty conditions, long before a family member was sentenced. The incarceration worsens the situation during the term of the sentence and, as we know, after the parent is released as well.

    The report calls for “reforming criminal justice policies, removing barriers to stability, and restoring educational and employment opportunities.”

    Read more about the report here

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