The Forgotten: The Impact of Parental and Familial Incarceration on Fragile Communities

Incarceration is no longer an uncommon experience in the United States for racial and ethnic minorities or for the poor. Close to half of US adults have been impacted by the incarceration of a family member, and as many as 10 million children have experienced the incarceration of a parent at some point in their lives. Children and families are the forgotten victims of incarceration and are confronted with many challenges due to the incarceration of their parent(s) or family member(s). The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review of the current research on parental, familial, and the lesser-known reality of sibling incarceration. Additionally, this chapter will discuss the historical context of family separation in the periods before and after slavery. Informed by this research, we suggest different approaches for examining the impacts of parental and familial incarceration in fragile communities in an effort to change the narrative from one of disadvantage to resiliency.

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