When a family member becomes incarcerated, they are not the only one who is affected. The family of the imprisoned is also greatly affected. Though this is a known fact, the surprise comes in the percentage of individuals who have a family member that has spent time in jail or prison. The bottom line is that when an individual is incarcerated, there is a ripple effect in how and who it affects.
A staggering study was recently published and reported that 45 percent of Americans have had an immediate family member spend time in jail or prison. The term “immediate family member” refers to a parent, sibling, spouse or partner, stepsibling or foster sibling. When the scope is widened to extended family, the grandparents and grandchildren, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and in-laws are also included. As immediate jumps to extended, so does the percentage of the amount of family members who have had a family member spend time in prison, now we’re looking at 64 percent.
With these findings, it seems that the real victims are the family members who have had a member spend time behind bars. Managing a household, growing up without a loved one and doing this thing we call life can be very difficult in this sense. Further findings show that family members with a loved one in prison are more likely to struggle with physical and mental health problems. The children of incarcerated individuals are also likely to experience struggles in their academic performance due to the stress they feel of having a loved one in jail or prison.
Mass incarceration must come to an end in the United States. The effects on family members of an incarcerated individual are long-lasting and serious.