Nearly half of US adults have seen fam­ily go to jail

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Rachel Weiner

Nearly one in two Amer­i­can adults has seen an im­me­di­ate fam­ily go to jail or prison at least one night, ac­cord­ing to a new study from Cor­nell Univer­sity.

One in seven adults has had an im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­ber be­hind bars for at least a year; for one in 34 adults it’s a decade or longer.

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

Among black and Na­tive Amer­i­can adults the num­bers are higher: 63 per­cent have had a fam­ily mem­ber in jail or prison for a night or more, com­pared to 48 per­cent of Latino and 42 per­cent of white adults. Three times as many black adults as white adults have seen a close rel­a­tive im­pris­oned for a year or more — 31 per­cent com­pared to 10 per­cent.

Low-in­come Amer­i­cans are also more likely to see their rel­a­tives jailed: more than half of adults mak­ing $25,000 a year or less have, com­pared to a third of those mak­ing $100,000 a year or more. Look­ing just at peo­ple with rel­a­tives locked up for a year or more, it’s about a quar­ter of the low­est in­come and 8 per­cent of the high­estin­come Amer­i­cans.

Peo­ple liv­ing in the North­east are least likely to see an im­me­di­ate rel­a­tive go to jail or prison, ac­cord­ing to the study — fewer than a third have.

FWD.us is a non­profit launched in 2013 by Face­book’s Mark Zucker­berg to ad­vo­cate for looser im­mi­gra­tion laws. The tech in­dus­try lob­by­ing group has since broad­ened its goals to in­clude crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form.

“This re­search cor­rob­o­rates what too many fam­i­lies have known for too long: Our cur­rent crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is harm­ing our econ­omy, com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies and un­der­min­ing the prom­ise of what Amer­ica can and should be,” said Todd Schulte, the pres­i­dent of FWD.us.

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