Nearly Half Of Americans Have Had Family Members In Jail, Study Finds

Craig Dellimore
December 07, 2018 - 1:54 pm
Jail Bars

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A new national report said the impact of keeping millions of offenders in prison is wider than most people might have imagined.

In a report conducted with Cornell University, the group found that nearly half of all adults in the United States - about 113 million people - have an immediate family member who has spent time behind bars.

Felicity Rose, FWD's research director for Criminal Justice, said the impact on families of the incarcerated can be physical and more.

"There's all these health impacts, and very importantly, financial, so not only are many people incarcerated the primary bread winner in the family, in the household providing the sole income, but they are also very frequently hit with costs from the Criminal Justice System," Rose told WBBM Newsradio.

Costs such as fines and court fees. 

Rose said government policies should help reduce the burden on families and reduce the number of non-violent offenders behind bars.

And she said lawmakers should support such policies, because so many people are directly impacted.

According to USA Today, the study found that one in seven people have an immediate family member who has spent at least a year behind bars, and one in 34 people have an immediate loved one who has spent more than 10 years or longer in prison. 

The study estimates that 6.5 million adults, 1 in 38, currently have an immediate family member incarcerated.

The study said arrests affect everyone – including nearly the same number of Republicans and Democrats – but numbers of those affected increase when examining minorities and families living in poverty.

"This isn't just a few people, this is millions of people, but yet there's so much shame and stigma attached to this issue, so much so that people just don't talk about it," Rose told USA Today. "There is a silent suffering around the country, but people need to know they're not alone."