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Collateral Casualities: Children of Incarcerated Drug Offenders in New York

NCJ Number
Paul Hirschfield; Susanne Katzenstein; Jamie Fellner
Malcolm Smart, Jim Ross
Date Published
June 2002
15 pages
This report addresses the impact of drug offenders’ incarceration on their children.
Focusing on the effects severe prison sentences for drug offenses have on their children, this report discusses the benefits of community-based sanctions in place of incarceration. Following a discussion of New York’s drug laws and how prison sentences for drug offenders are determined, the authors present new statistics concerning incarcerated parents and their children. Suggesting the importance of drug offenders’ children maintaining strong, continuing contact with their incarcerated parents, this report discusses the usefulness of frequent visits and mail, telephone contact, and the distance the prison is from the parent’s previous residence in facilitating a child’s emotional well-being. The authors conclude that harsh prison sentences needlessly hurt the children of drug offenders. This report suggests that New York legislators ought to allow judges to order the use of community-based sanctions and treatment programs in lieu of lengthy prison terms for parents who are drug offenders. Tables, appendices