Captive Lives: Children of inmates face long odds of success

An estimated 10 million children in the U.S. have parents who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. According to “Shared Sentence,” arecent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child health and welfare organization, such children have a greater chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Their families are less likely to be financially stable and more likely to be homeless. At school, they are more likely to be suspended or expelled or drop out.

Many are byproducts of the country’s move toward tough-on-crime policies, which have helped swell the overall jail and prison population to 2.3 millionpeople, more than four times the total imprisoned in 1980.

For every incarcerated parent in San Francisco, there’s a child like Luna. Like Arvaughn Williams, 17, whose father was in and out of jail until he was shot and killed four years ago. Or Leila Soto, 17, who hasn’t seen her father since he was sent to prison when she was 4.

Yet the needs of children like these have been largely ignored. Government efforts to help them are scant. Unlike for children in poverty or English learners, there is no consistent funding designated to aid them.

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