1 in 2 U.S. adults has had a family member incarcerated

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FWD.us calls itself “a bipartisan” political organization, founded by technology and business “leaders,” which believes that America’s “broken immigration and criminal justice systems have locked too many people out from the American dream”.

According to Wikipedia:

FWD.us is a 501(c)(4) lobbying group . . . that aims to lobby and advocate for its version of immigration reform, changes to the US education system to improve science and technology education, and the facilitation of scientific breakthroughs with broad public benefits. It is primarily supported and funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

The initiative is led by principal Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Its founding president was Joe Green, a close friend and confidant of Zuckerberg. The group aims to build a bipartisan consensus around its proposed policies, however it has garnered criticism for its tactics in pursuing these goals.

FWD.us recently published a 55-page report titled, Every Second: The Impact of the Incarceration Crisis on America’s Families, based on research conducted by a team of social scientists led by Cornell University professor Christopher Wildeman.

Methodology: In the summer of 2018, FWD.us partnered with a research team based out of Cornell University to conduct an online and phone (in English and Spanish) survey of a nationally representative sample of 4,041 adults age 18 or older.

Below are the findings:

  • On any given day, there are more than 1.5 million people behind bars in state or federal prisons in the United States.
  • 45% of all U.S. adults — about 1 in 2 adults or 113 million people — have had an immediate family member incarcerated for at least one night in jail or prison.
  • 1 in 7 adults has had an immediate family member incarcerated for at least one year.
  • 1 in 34 adults has had an immediate family member spend 10 years or longer in prison.
  • Today, an estimated 6.5 million people (1 in 38) have an immediate family member currently incarcerated in jail or prison.
  • Family relationship:
    • 1 in 4 adults (27.5%) has had a sibling incarcerated.
    • 1 in 5 (18.4%) has had a parent incarcerated.
    • 1 in 7 (13.5%) has had a spouse or co-parent incarcerated.
    • 1 in 8 (12.2%) has had a child incarcerated.
  • Political party:
    • 48% of Independents vs. 45% Democrats vs. 43% Republicans have had an immediate family member incarcerated.
  • Race:
    • 63% of Native-Americans, 63% of Blacks, 48% of Latinos, and 42% of Whites have had an immediate family member spend at least one night in jail.
    • Black adults are 50% more likely than whites (63% vs. 42%) to have had an immediate family member incarcerated, and three times more likely to have had an immediate family member incarcerated for one year or longer (31% vs. 10%).
    • Latino adults are 70% more likely than whites (17% vs. 10%) to have had an immediate family member incarcerated for longer than one year.
  • Income:
    • People earning less than $25,000 per year are
      61% more likely than people earning more than $100,000 (53% vs. 33%) to have had a family member incarcerated, and three times more likely (24% vs. 8%) to have had a family member incarcerated for one year or longer.
  • Gender:
    • Men are more likely to be incarcerated: 90% of adults in jail or prison are males.
    • 48% of women vs. 42% of men have had a family member incarcerated.
  • Region: Percentage of adults who have had an immediate family member incarcerated for one night:
    • 49% in the South
    • 49% in the West
    • 45% in the Midwest
    • 31% in the Northeast
  • Effects on women of having a family member incarcerated:
    • 63% of women have had their physical health affected.
    • 32% of women lost their household’s primary source of income.
    • 35% of women became homeless or experienced housing insecurity.
    • 70% of women became their family’s sole wage earner.
  • Effects on family of having a family member incarcerated:
    • Male incarceration is strongly correlated with a lower likelihood of marriage and higher rates of divorce and separation.
    • Incarceration is far more likely to sever family ties than to strengthen them, and has a particularly negative impact on the emotional support systems, living arrangements, and parental custody of children.
    • For families with children, incarceration can also result in permanent family separation due to the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (AFSA),which requires that states terminate parental rights if a child has been in foster care for 15 of the previous 22 months.
    • Increases in female incarceration rates explain 40% of the increase in foster care caseloads, which more than doubled between 1985 and 2000.


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12 responses to “1 in 2 U.S. adults has had a family member incarcerated

  1. Pingback: 1 in 2 U.S. adults has had a family member incarcerated – Occasion2B

  2. Just as food for thought, incarceration rates are indicative of how well-suited laws are to the population subject to them. In other words, if such a large proportion of the population is incarcerated it seems that the laws that are broken must represent a smaller percentage of the populations morals and ethics.

    From there we have to decide whether laws are there to enforce societal norms or are they really diagnostic of how little current populations regard the standards the laws represent.

    Either the societies are changing in such a way that they are more violent or dishonest, or those incarcerated are not really in violation. So, have the laws changed? Have the populations changed? How does the incarceration rate now compare to earlier times?

    I’ve always considered laws as a “last resort” and certainly unnecessary for people who live conscientiously. If we have to remove this many from society in order to remain safe, the laws are not the problem.

    • Haycraft Ministries

      @Lophatt it might interest you to see how deinstitutionalization has affected the prison population. Corrections facilities have become the warehouses of the mentally ill in America. You also might want to look into the money trail associated with the corrections industry: phone call rates, commissary prices, etc.
      Poverty and all that goes with it leads to broken individuals within broken homes and subsequent communities. People can’t teach what they don’t know. We have generations of individuals who have grown up in dysfunctional families and don’t know that they don’t know.
      There is also the stigma placed on individuals who have been incarcerated and the mentally ill, both of which have become modern day scarlet letters. A lack of proper positive support assists in recidivism rates.
      There are many who want ‘something done’ as long as it doesn’t involve them.

  3. What a ridiculous, spurious comment because incarceration rates are certainly NOT ‘indicative of how well suited laws are to a population’ Using this line of reasoning in parenting ( for example) it could lead someone to the belief that it might as well be GOOD that we eat ALL the cookies before dinner and that spoiling your appetite is not ‘well suited’. RIDICULOUS. Your flight into the absurd is particularly annoying when you actually stated “From there we have to decide whether laws are there to enforce societal norms or are they really diagnostic of how little current populations regard the standards the laws represent” HA! Obviously you are either unaware how we pass laws that govern us (on the federal, state and local levels) or you may as well like hearing yourself talk. I say that because you have the audacity to entertain your own point unabated when you state, ‘Either the societies are changing in such a way that they are more violent or dishonest, or those incarcerated are not really in violation.’ RIGHT… so criminals arent ‘really’ criminals… HA! MAYBE, just maybe people have become MORE LAWLESS … MORE CRIMINAL… a point you failed to mention and lastly you sum everything up beautifully showing complete ignorance by stating ‘I’ve always considered laws as a “last resort” and certainly unnecessary for people who live conscientiously’… OH, so now its a matter of conscience? hahahhaa If every man did what he thought was right in his own mind… there would be anarchy… smh

    • Bobby, I usually steer clear of feeding the trolls, but your comment was singularly hostile, not to mention short-sighted, so I can’t help but respond.

      Are you suggesting we have just the right number of laws? You do know that, by some accounts, every American breaks at least FOUR “laws” per day. Maybe it’s because Americans have become more criminal in recent years as you argue, but I agree with Lophatt that it’s because we have TOO MANY STUPID LAWS. If there’s no victim, there shouldn’t be a crime.

      For the record, “anarchy” does NOT mean “without law”, it means “without rule”. I, for one, would welcome it (sorry, I outgrew the need for parenting by the time I was 18, if not before), though maybe morons like yourself make a good case that government is necessary after all.

      • Thank you Recynd. I’ll stand by my original comments. Laws represent society’s failure to inculcate good social behavior. There should be an absolute minimum of laws.

        Most of the laws on the books are duplicated many times over. They are often synonyms for other crimes.

        I think we need to make a distinction here as to what these laws, especially those resulting in incarceration, are for. True “justice” is meted out by us mere mortals. That comes later.

        For us, the goal should be protection of the society at large from violent criminals. Secondarily it should serve as a deterrent, especially in the case of “white collar crime”. I doubt that incarceration is mush of a deterrent to murderers and rapists.

        I also fully support programs to help inmates transition back into society. I never said anything about “warehousing” as some desired goal. I meant to say that for those who are violent and likely to reoffend, I don’t want them back in society. If there were some other option I would be open to looking at that.

  4. Interesting, and of course we will all know / will have met people who have been in jail without even knowing it, most don’t casually drop it in a conversation.

  5. Don’t we have MORE people incarcerated than even Red China, even though they have 3-4 times the population we do? We have approximately 2.19 million incarcerated, while China has 1.55 million in jail. Yet we call ourselves the land of the free and home of the brave-what a joke…

  6. I would disagree with Lophatt that, as we “must” remove these many people from society, then the laws ARE the problem—either the legislation itself, the enforcement or the interpretation or application of them.
    We can thank the so-called War on Drugs for a good deal of this problem. This began in earnest during the Clinton Administration, when black people were arrested in greater numbers and proportions for drug offenses and served longer sentences than members of other groups, on average.
    We have to have a national discussion on the legalization of all controlled substances and take a libertarian point of view regarding controlled substances. This model of prohibition is derived from the British Empire model, which sought to enrich the few elites and cartels at the expense of the many. We must rid ourselves of this oligarchical control and allow the chips to fall where they may, and for this reason: If someone wants to smoke marijuana or do mushrooms, the State must not be allowed to have any say over that (except for intoxicated driving).

    There is truly something dreadfully wrong with American society that we incarcerate more people—total numbers and per capita—than Communist China! And politicians who seek to score points with the public for “getting tough” don’t score any points with me! (I gave up marijuana over 30 years ago and don’t use any substances.)

  7. Our system and society are broken and corrupt.

  8. It seems the lesser crimes receive the longer sentences and punishment. When pedophiles, rapists and murderers get paroled, justice has not been served, not for the victims or society. Pedophiles, especially should be executed and not paroled. The whole prison system is very lucrative for businesses. including telephone companies. The prisons in America are all about big profits and less about society in general. I once heard an elderly man say “laws are only for law-abiding citizens, and locks are only for honest people”. If our prison system really had any merit; then 90% of all the politicians would be incarcerated. It’s just a monopoly. It’s high-scale organized money crime. Leeann


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