Oklahoma Children of Incarcerated Parents Task Force
January 1, 2012
On any given day, more than 26,000 Oklahoma children have a parent in an Oklahoma prison. This number does not include children with parents jailed or imprisoned in county jails and federal correctional facilities. More than half of these children were living with their parent immediately before incarceration. With thousands of inmates entering the prison system each year, these numbers underrepresents the total number of children the impacted in the state.
Objective: To foster communication among children, caregivers, and incarcerated parents in order to maintain contact with their parents and to minimize the impact of the parent’s incarceration on the children.
• Recommendation: Support activities to maintain contact between an incarcerated parent and a minor child when it is in the best interest of the child.
Objective: To encourage parents and caregivers to seek services for the child regardless of social stigma.
• Recommendation: Eliminate any barriers preventing children of incarcerated parents from accessing quality health care.
Objective: To train all criminal justice professionals and individuals whose responsibility is to provide services to children when parent(s) is/are involved with the criminal justice system, either through arrest, county jail placement, or incarceration.
• Recommendation: Develop a statewide training curriculum which serves to educate participants on the sweeping adverse effects that parental involvement in the criminal justice system has on children.
Objective: To improve the parent-child relationship by providing quality approved education programs.
• Recommendation: Provide parent education programs (including child development) to parents to help support a healthy and strong parent-child relationship.
Objective: To provide validation of the parent-child relationship and eventually a possible avenue for financial support of the child.
• Recommendation: Provide information to incarcerated non-custodial parents on how to responsibly address financial obligations to their children while incarcerated.
Objective: To reduce reliance on incarceration through expansion in the availability and use of programs and interventions which serve as viable alternatives to periods of incarceration. Use of alternative programs and interventions should especially be considered when imposing sentencing options for individuals who are custodial parents of minor children.
• Recommendation: Expand the use of community-based sentencing options utilizing evidence-based intervention programs and services targeted to reduce criminal risk factors.
Objective: To help support and sustain resources which foster transformation in the lives of children of incarcerated parents through the following: support of a statewide data repository, raising public awareness, a clearinghouse for community resources, an overall better collaboration and communication among state agencies and organizations that serve this population.
• Recommendation: Designate the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth as the official state agency responsible for increasing public awareness, coordinating research, creating a resource clearinghouse which identifies available services to children of incarcerated parents, and coordinating an advisory committee. This work should continue collaboratively with agencies, community and faith-based providers to better meet the needs and improve the quality of life for children of incarcerated parents.
On a given day approximately 3.3% of Oklahoma children have a parent incarcerated. This number will increase significantly to include all children in a year who have had incarcerated parents due to the admissions and releases during the year.
In 2009, there were approximately 4,624 minor children in Oklahoma who had a mother in prison, 2,430 who lived with their mothers at the time of incarceration.
In 2011, a total estimated number of children impacted by an incarcerated father in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections are 21,482.
In 2011, a total estimated number of children living with an incarcerated parent at the time of arrest are 12,634.
Oklahoma currently ranks number ONE for female incarceration per capita in the United States.
Oklahoma currently ranks number FOUR for male incarceration per capita in the United States.
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