How A Parent’s Criminal Record Affects Their Children

Posted on in Criminal Defense
Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, crime studies,The United States of America is the number one country in the world for incarceration and arrest rates. For nearly four decades, the number of individuals in federal prisons, state prisons, and jail has skyrocketed, and today, nearly 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated. Many of today’s lawmakers, including the Governor of Illinois, have stated future goals of reducing prison populations in their states for a number of reasons. Arrest and incarceration can lead individuals to a lifetime of arrests, jail time, and fines, keeping themselves in poverty and costing individual states and ultimately American taxpayers a significant sum of money. Moving forward with a criminal record can be difficult, but having a criminal record can affect others in a defendant's too. A recent report from the Center for American Progress indicates that children with at least one parent with a criminal record face challenges. How Are Children Affected?

In Illinois, an estimated 300,000 children have at least one parent with a criminal record. Nationwide, nearly half of all United States children are affected in some way by a parent with a criminal record. Somewhere between 70 and 100 million Americans, possibly as many as one in every three adults, have some type of criminal record. They may simply have a misdemeanor on their record, and many have been arrested but never convicted. Regardless of the crime, and if the individual was punished or not, a mark on one’s criminal record can bring with it a lifetime of consequences, for both the individual and their family members.

Studies have shown that criminal records lead to challenges such as poverty, difficulty finding employment, housing challenges, and more. For children, whose development is strongly tied to the circumstances of their childhood, growing up with a parent with a criminal record can be difficult. According to the Center for American Progress, upwards of 33 million children in the United States currently have at least one parent with a criminal background. This can be challenging for children in a number of ways:
  • Income: Parents who have a criminal background tend to earn less money, and often face major challenges finding jobs. Additionally, public assistance may not be provided to those with criminal records.
  • Education: People with criminal records also face challenges in receiving education and training opportunities. This can mean that for families with one or more parent with a criminal record, escaping poverty can be difficult. Parents with a criminal record may have a tougher time supporting their family.
  • Housing: Individuals with a criminal record may struggle finding public or private housing. Children need a place to call home, and children without one face higher chances for emotional distress, mental disorders, and hindrance of academic development.
  • Family’s Savings and Assets: Crime is expensive. Legal fees, fines, and other costs associated with crime can be damaging to families. Saving money can become difficult, leaving families financially insecure. Parents with a criminal record will have a tougher time saving for important items like college and medical expenses for their family.
  • Family Stability: Stressors linked to parents with a criminal record will make maintaining a healthy relationship within your family a challenge. Furthermore, a parent with a background in crime may negatively influence their children, who may end up repeating the same cycle their parent is stuck in.
What Can Be Done to Protect Children?

Advocates say that policies on crime in America need to change. One possible idea is a clean-slate policy, which would seal the criminal records of offenders who committed low-level, nonviolent crimes, after the offender has proven they can live a crime free lifestyle.

If you have been arrested for a crime, contact an experienced Chicago area criminal defense attorneys. Call the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney at  312-629-0669 for a free consultation.


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