94,000 Children in Louisiana Affected by Incarceration of a Parent or Caregiver
LOUISIANA – A new report released today by Daughters Beyond Incarceration and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) offers a roadmap for stakeholders appointed earlier this year to serve on a council within the Louisiana Governor’s office to investigate the impact of parental or caregiver incarceration on children in Louisiana – the prison capital of the world.
The report, Cut Off from Caregivers: The Children of Incarcerated Parents in Louisiana, describes parental incarceration as a growing epidemic across the nation. An estimated 94,000 children in Louisiana have at least one parent or caregiver who is incarcerated. That is nearly one for every seven children in the state. Nationwide, the rate is one in 28 children.
Due to historic and systemic racism, Black children and families experience incarceration at disproportionate rates. According to the report, 11.4% of all Black children in the U.S. experience parental or caregiver incarceration, compared to 1.8% of their white peers. In Louisiana, Black people make up 32% of the state’s population but account for two-thirds of its prison population.
“When a parent or caregiver is incarcerated, they are not the only ones serving the sentence,” said Lauren Winkler, senior staff attorney for the SPLC’s children’s rights practice group in Louisiana. “Their children suffer severe social, emotional and economic trauma that affects every area of their lives, including their education and food security. To effectively address this issue, we must address the issue of mass incarceration and the racism that fuels it.”
In 2020, Louisiana passed legislation establishing the Council on Children of Incarcerated Parents and Caregivers within the Office of the Governor to examine the impact of a parent or caregiver’s incarceration on the well-being of children. The Council is expected to issue its first set of findings and recommendations in January 2022. Cut Off from Caregivers offers a guide to help inform the Council’s work.
“We encourage the Council to engage meaningfully with impacted families and communities and other experts and to identify systemic solutions to ensure that Louisiana can reduce the number of children with incarcerated parents and caregivers and ensure that those children have the resources they need to thrive,” the report states.
The Council, which will meet monthly, held its first meeting on March 4. The next meeting is scheduled for April 1.
Dominque Johnson, chairwoman of the Council and co-founder of Daughters Beyond Incarceration, said: “Breaking generational cycles for children with incarcerated parents started with the forming of this Council. As Chairwoman, I will work to ensure this Council produces effective resources to support those who work closely with children with incarcerated parents. More importantly, this Council will provide public data to describe the percentage of children impacted by mass incarceration in our state.”
To read the report, visit: https://bit.ly/3rFxhl1.