About 809,800 prisoners of the 1,518,535 held in the nation's prison at midyear 2007 were parents of minor children, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Parents in prison – 52 percent of state inmates and 63 percent of federal inmates –reported having 1,706,600 minor children. About 2.3 percent of the 74 million children in the U.S. under 18 on July 1, 2007, had a parent in prison. Black and Hispanic children were about eight and three times, respectively, more likely than white children to have a parent in prison. Among minor children, 6.7 percent of blacks, 2.4 percent of Hispanics, and 0.9 percent of whites had a parent in prison. State inmates who were parents said nearly a quarter of their children were four or younger.
Among fathers in prison, more than 4 in 10 were black, about 3 in 10 were white, and about 2 in 10 were Hispanic. Among mothers, 48 percent were white, 28 percent were black, and 17 percent were Hispanic. About two-thirds (64 percent) of mothers held in state prison and nearly half (47 percent) of fathers reported living with their minor children either in the month before arrest or just prior to incarceration.