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The families of incarcerated men and women are unrecognized victims, whose psychological, social, and economic needs are unmet by state programs and outside support groups. Stigmatized by association, they, too, are punished.
Communication and visitations, for example, are made difficult through the "farming" of prisoners to remote facilities, through long waits, inhospitable treatment, and brief interaction times. As such, families, especially with children, are discouraged from making these visits. Consequently, the bonds that might have helped in reintegration upon release are weakened, and children are more likely to be placed in foster care.
Neither are family members coached in issues surrounding the reentry of their loved one, and so they are not equipped to deal with these particular challenges. The anxieties, concerns, and depression they confront day-to-day are considered inconsequential in the current system, as are their financial burdens. Due to the loss of a potential wage earner, prison families are often unable to obtain proper medical care and affordable housing.
NYADP believes that nonviolent, productive approaches to crime must take into consideration all who are affected. As noted, this includes prisoners families. With over 2 million people in the prison population, the ripple effects are staggering.
A strong family to come home to decreases the likelihood of recidivism, and for the children of the incarcerated, proper counseling will ensure that the adverse consequences of having a parent in prison are mitigated, and that they will make the choices that will keep them far away from the prison system in the future.