America: Nearly 21,000 Children in North Carolina Have a Parent in Prison

At least 20,666 children across the state of North Carolina have a parent behind bars, according to NC Health News agency.

Around 11,000 individuals, or about a third of the total prison population in the state, are parents to children under 18 years old, as per an analysis conducted by the Adult Correction division last January.

Prison authorities have repeatedly acknowledged the impact of parental incarceration on children, with some prisons seeking ways to build and maintain family bonds during incarceration.

Melissa Radcliffe, program director at Our Children’s Place on the Coastal Horizons Center, stated, “The parents may have a different title in prison, but they haven’t lost their status as parents.”

She emphasized the importance of maintaining parent-child relationships during incarceration, rather than waiting for reconnection upon release, noting that parental incarceration means “taking someone out of a child’s life without them having done anything wrong.”

Radcliffe pointed out that parental incarceration negatively affects children’s long-term health and well-being, according to the agency.

Research has shown that children with incarcerated parents are more prone to mental health issues and antisocial behavior, but strong parent-child relationships help mitigate these risks. Designating a day for parents aimed at enhancing those bonds is one way to assist, according to Radcliffe.

Amanda Cobb, an officer at Orange Correctional Center, witnessed the positive impact of Parent’s Day on incarcerated men and their children, which is why she advocates for the event to be held twice a year in the prison.

According to the agency, she sees it as one way to help build family bonds, which will be crucial before and after the incarcerated men return to society.

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