NYTimes: Our Duty to the Children of Incarcerated Mothers


July 12, 2009

To the Editor: Re “With Higher Number of Prisoners Comes a Tide of Troubled Children” (news article, July 5):

The number of children with a parent in prison is indeed startling, and we should be alarmed by the millions who are affected. But we should not label — or write off — children of incarcerated parents as members of a lost “incarceration generation.” If we do, we risk stigmatizing children of unfortunate circumstances and absolving ourselves of the duty to do better by them. We have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do all we can to promote better outcomes for families who come in contact with the law. Alternative-to-incarceration programs, drug treatment and family support programs are less costly than imprisonment and offer a real chance to improve public safety. Community-based alternative programs address the root causes of criminality and eliminate the risk and culture shock of a transition from prison back home.

Georgia K. Lerner Executive Director Women’s Prison Association

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