As of 2007, 1.7 million children had a parent in prison, an 82 percent increase from 936,000 in 1991, says The Sentencing Project. The racial/ethnic variation is broad: 1 in 15 African-American children has a parent in prison, as does 1 in 42 Latino children and 1 in 111 white children.
Because sixty-two percent of parents in state prisons are more than 100 miles from home, visits from children decline over time. In 2004, more than half of parents in state prisons and nearly half in federal prisons had never had a visit from their children. The Sentencing Project backs parent-child relationships through programs such as that of the Bedford Hills, N.Y. women’s prison in which newborn babies can live with their mothers for a period of time. The advocacy organization also urges amending legislation that impedes the prospects for successful reentry and uniting parents with children, such as the ban on receipt of welfare and food stamps for those with drug convictions.