Originally Published May 21, 2020
Data shows that as of 2016, there are 2.3 million prisoners in the US. They comprise 24.7% of the world’s inmate population. But what these numbers don’t tell you are the number of people who are paying for the crime they didn’t commit: the families of inmates.
Yes, these people are innocent victims of the system and of the poor choices their loved ones have made. They didn’t want this. No one wants to see the person they love languishing behind bars. But they didn’t have a choice in this nor do they deserve this.
Incarceration leaves a huge impact on these families. It leads to feelings of loss and demoralization, and the victimization of children.
More than the emotional impact, incarceration also lives these families financially vulnerable. It’s not a secret that most inmates came from poor families. For them, losing a breadwinner can mean the difference between a nice warm home or living on the streets.
Fortunately, there are organizations that are helping ease the burden for these families. Prison support groups have been very instrumental in helping inmate families adapt and heal. Here are some ways they provide support to families of prisoners.
1. HELPING FAMILIES COPE WITH INCARCERATION
Incarceration usually drives a family apart. Aside from financial problems, families are also often left without access to certain social services. In some communities, they may also face social stigma.
Prison support groups help these families cope with incarceration through various means. One of the most immediate concerns that they usually address is the loss of income. They also provide the families access to information that they may need to get through this trying time. This includes resources on prison services particularly cheap prison calls.
Various research studies show that frequent prison calls not only help inmates. It’s also therapeutic for their families as it helps them maintain ties with their loved ones in prison. This, in turn, reduces the emotional and psychological toll brought about by incarceration.
2. OFFERS SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN WITH INCARCERATED PARENTS
Children with incarcerated parents often grow up having various psychological issues. Most also end up in prison themselves. Having an absentee parent can traumatize a child in a lot of ways. And this trauma often manifests in bursts of violence and a propensity to breaking the law.
Since most of these children are often left with relatives or foster parents, most prison support groups provide resources for their caregivers. This usually includes a guide on understanding what the children are going through.
To cushion the psychological impact of incarceration on children, some prison organizations launched apps and videos. They are not only aimed at comforting these children. They also ease them through the various transitions related to a parent’s incarceration.
3. PREPARES INMATES FOR REENTRY
If incarceration is hard, being released from prison is an altogether different challenge for inmates. They will have to reintegrate into a society that distrusts former felons. As such, employment opportunities are scarce which often leads them right back into prison.
To curb recidivism, prison support groups also provide resources to prepare inmates for reentry. From helping them get over substance abuse to repairing personal relationships, they guide the inmate until they achieve their goals. They also provide them with a much-needed safe and nurturing community to rely on during their transition.
FIND A LOCAL PRISON SUPPORT GROUP
If your family is going through the challenge of incarceration, a prison support group would be a tremendous help. JailAid understands your need and keeps a directory of prison support organizations all throughout the country. You can find one nearest you by visiting their site.
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GlobalTel’s inmate calling service lowers jail call rates by 90% for jail calls to US facilities. Sign up for our service to eliminate the long distance jail call fees for $45.99 for 90 days. Make US/domestic and international jail calls at the local rate and stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones for less. Learn more about how to sign up for calls from inmates on our website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.