Report: High rate of parent incarceration

West Virginia has been found among the 12 states with the largest percentage of parental incarceration, according to a new national report.

A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that West Virginia is one of the 12 states which have the highest percentage of children with a parent who has been in or out of jail. According to the study, 34,000 children are victims of this troubling stats – one out of ten children has at least one parent who is currently in jail or has been in jail.

The West Virginia KIDS COUNT Fund is the organization that collects and provides data about American kids’ well-being. The high rate of black parents’ incarceration dramatically affects the life of black kids. West Virginia KIDS COUNT Interim Executive Director Laura Gandee said that the time has come for “people of color” to demand that lawmakers think about kids before throwing their parents into jail.

I fully support this statement. Mass incarceration of parents, especially among the blacks, creates the conditions in which a child becomes a criminal. This school-to-prison pipeline pushes children out of classrooms into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

We all know that African-Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. If a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person is more likely to be arrested. 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites. These numbers are awful! But if we think of all the kids that were left alone the situation becomes tragic! It is time to demand a fair justice system and to fight for the truth.

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