Number Of RI Children With Incarcerated Parents Is On The Rise

May 26, 2017

Five years ago, 11 out of every 1,000 children in the state had at least one parent in jail. Today that number is closer to 13, according to a new report from the nonprofit advocacy group Rhode Island Kids Count.

Discussing the report, RI Kids Count Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant said among mothers in prison, more than half were convicted of a nonviolent or drug-related offense. She said the impact of incarceration of a parent on a child can be devastating and long-lasting.

“Immediate and long-term consequences of the imprisonment of a parent can include trauma,” said Burke Bryant. “Obviously it’s a jarring situation when your parent is taken off to jail. A tendency toward lower academic performance, and increased suspension and expulsion from school.”

Burke Bryant is urging the state to invest in more support for children while their parents are in jail, as well as consider new visitation policies for incarcerated parents.

Of the 3,000 inmates at the state's Adult Correctional Institutions, more than half had children.