Monday, October 18, 2010

Documentary spotlights Berrien inmates, kids

DePaul University film team hopes to capture how severely children are affected when a parent is serving time

By Scott Aiken - H-P Thursday, September 9, 2010

ST. JOSEPH - When a mother is convicted of a crime and goes to jail, the punishment may not fall on her alone.
Children, unable to understand why their parent is gone, often suffer lasting harm.
"The effect of a woman leaving for a few months is devastating, it's heart-wrenching," said Kim Clark, part of a documentary film team that has been working in the Berrien County jail since July....

Policy matters
wrote on Sep 9, 2010 4:46 PM:
"...There is nothing at all contradictory about the notion that very bad social outcomes - in this case, the prospect of children growing up with one or both parents incarcerated and the myriad associated problems - can be a result of both irresponsible personal behavior and bad policy. Certainly, parents ought to consider the well-being of their children when they engage in risky, illegal,and unethical behavior. Acknowledging this fact, however, it is still the case that incarceration policies in this country are badly out of whack. The rate at which we imprison people is the highest in the world, there is little evidence of any safety benefits accruing to this rate, and there is a great deal of harm that comes from placing almost two and a half million people behind bars at any given time. One of the harms being the incidence of broken families. "

wrote on Sep 9, 2010 5:16 PM:
" America, land of the free, has the largest prison population in the world. Since 1980, the US prison population has risen 400% and the trend continues upward.

The cost to our society is simply unsustainable. One-third of all black males are either in jail, or on parole/probation. Half of all black males have criminal records...We continue to enforce a 'War on Drugs' that costs over $100,000,000,000 a year and has only made the black market more lucrative for both the suppliers and dealers as well as members of the arrest and punishment industry while creating an unemployable underclass that is a cause, in large measure, of the results reported in the HP story. "

Gotta Wonder wrote on Sep 9, 2010 5:18 PM:
" I understand that we should have zero tolerance for crime. But this documentary is addressing a particular aspect of crime and its effect on children.

I think the point is, who will teach these children? Their parents may not be the best role models, but who really gets punished when they are incarcerated and not even able to care for their children in the most basic sense? So, who gets the job? Grandparents, the State, and perhaps a little attention from a social worker at school.

Particularly with women, I think there is a lot of incentive to go straight and sober up, so to speak, if it means rebuilding the family. I think the Fresh Start program has had some success.

It isn't necessarily in the best interest of children of offenders or society to issue lengthy sentences to mothers. Once the bond of mother and child is removed, mothers lose incentive to improve their lives and the kids start to drift toward crime. We are talking about people who have been raised in a cycle, a culture, a heritage of crime. "

Policy matters
wrote on Sep 10, 2010 10:21 AM:
" To Logician: There is nothing in my first post to suggest that I think incarceration is never appropriate for parents. What I am claiming is that our country locks up far more people than is optimal, with no appreciable safety benefit, an enormous burden on state budgets, and a host of very serious social harms. One of these social harms, as depicted by the documentary in question, is borne by the children of the incarcerated.

Prison time is no doubt warranted for parents who pose a genuine threat to society. Likewise, all parents ought to be compelled by the state to abide by the law. There is quite a lot of careful thought, however, to suggest that this compulsion as currently applied is grossly inefficient in many ways. What we need, and what is clearly possible, is a criminal justice system that better provides the desirable outcomes of a safe and orderly society without the massive externalities of the current system. Such a system will almost certainly entail locking up many fewer people, parents included. "

wrote on Sep 10, 2010 1:37 PM:
" These jails are owned by private corporations they rely on incarcerations....more people in jail=$ "