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Publication Incarcerated Parents and Their Children

Christopher J. Mumola, Bureau of Justice Statistics

August 30, 2000    NCJ 182335

Presents data from the 1997 Surveys of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities concerning inmates with minor children. Numeric tables present data on the percent of inmates with children under the age of 18, whether or not inmates lived with their children prior to admission, and the children's current care givers. Tables also present 1999 estimates of the number of parents in State and Federal prisons, as well as the number of minor children and households affected by the imprisonment of a parent. Information on inmates' frequency and type of contact with their children is provided. Characteristics of incarcerated parents are detailed in tables which present data on current offenses, criminal histories, and sentence lengths. This BJS Special Report also presents data on incarcerated parents' reports of prior drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health services, as well as various socioeconomic data, including employment and income at time of arrest, and prior experiences of homelessness.


  • In 1999 an estimated 721,500 State and Federal prisoners were parents to 1,498,800 children under age 18.
  • 22% of all minor children with a parent in prison were under 5 years old.
  • Prior to admission, less than half of the parents in State prison reported living with their children -- 44% of fathers, 64% of mothers.

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Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities (SISCF)

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