American Fathers in Prison: America’s Real Parenting Crisis
There are a lot of social commentary in this country every day about the crisis of American fatherhood. We hear all the time about how terrible it is that so many homes in the U.S. do not have a full-time dad in them. Blame is placed on the individual man, and the woman who bore his child, instead of looking at the societal factors that take fathers out of the home. One of these is America’s over use of incarceration to punish drug use and other minor, non violent crimes.
In America today, there are over two million children with a father in jail or prison. Over ninety percent of parents in prison are fathers. The number of children with a father in prison has grown 79% since 1991.
This is terribly adverse on children. Children with a father incarcerated are likely to experience the criminal justice system and incarceration themselves. These homes face economic barriers because of a parent being incarcerated and unable to support their children.
Incarceration for delinquent child support is a feel-good solution that actually prevents men from staying employed and able to pay the delinquent child support.
What should we do to support fathers and their children who are at risk of experiencing the criminal justice system:
1. Make job training and education available in more neighborhoods and to more young men;
2. Make sex education comprehensive and realistic to help more men plan fatherhood;
3. Make drug rehabilitation and mental health services available and free;
4. Stop using incarceration to punish low level crimes and non-violent crimes;
5. Abolish the money bail system to allow more criminal defendants to be released on bond.
6. Decriminalize low level drug possession.
7. Stop incarceration for delinquent child support.
We need to help fathers stay in the home. Part of this is stopping the cycle of incarceration and allowing men to stay out of jail and at home with their children.
Happy Fathers’ Day!