According to a new study conducted by FWD.us and Cornell University, nearly half of all adults in the United States—a total of 113 million people—have a family member who is either currently or formerly incarcerated.
The study, “Every Second: The Impact of the Incarceration Crisis on America’s Families,” reveals the damage that incarceration inflicts upon mental and emotional well being, the erosion of family bonds, education, and financial stability.
And to the surprise of no one, families of color are disproportionately impacted more than our white counterparts. As the study reveals that 63 percent of Indigenous adults, 63 percent of black adults and 48 percent of Latinx adults have had at least one family member spend at least one night in prison or jail.
According to Colorlines, here are some other important findings:
- Black adults are 50 percent more likely than White adults to have had an immediate family member incarcerated.
- Black adults are three times more likely than White adults to have had an immediate family member incarcerated for longer than one year.
- Latino adults are 70 percent more likely than White adults to have had an immediate family member incarcerated for longer than one year.
- Adults with household incomes less than $25,000 per year are 61 percent more likely than adults with household incomes more than $100,000 to have had a family member incarcerated, and three times more likely to have had a family member incarcerated for one year or longer.
- Incarceration inflicts a large burden on women and children: 48 percent of women have had an immediate family incarcerated compared to 42 percent of men.
- Young adults age 18-29 are more likely than other respondents to have had a parent incarcerated.
The report concludes with a call to action, noting “we having a long way to go before our policies match our aspirations when it comes to supporting families.”
The results of this groundbreaking new research should serve as a wake-up call and a stark reminder of how much work is needed to alleviate the harms caused by mass incarceration and unravel the complicated tangle of laws that perpetuate it. While many states and local governments have begun to reduce the number of people in prison or jail, we have a long way to go before our policies match our aspirations when it comes to supporting families.
You can read the report in full here.