Punishing the Innocent: Children of Incarcerated and Detained Parents

Criminal Justice Ethics 30 (3):267-287 (2011)

Abstract

About 2 million minor children in the U.S. have at least one parent incarcerated for criminal offenses. There are about 33,000 undocumented persons detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in jails and federal detention centers around the country, and 79% of the minor children of these detainees are U.S. citizens. There are few government programs that measure and respond to the harm caused to these children by the incarceration and detention of their parents, and the negative effects on these children are largely ignored in public policy debates about incarceration and immigration detention. I argue that we have an obligation to these children based on the special status of children, the harm caused to children by the arrest, detention and incarceration of their parents, current incarceration and detention policies even in the presence of alternatives that would, on balance, create less harm

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Rita Manning
San Jose State University

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