LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Members of Kentucky Youth Advocates and other supporting agencies are attempting to address an alarming statistic: 1 out of 10 Kentucky children will have an incarcerated parent at some point.
KYA members will be appealing to state lawmakers in the new year to write legislation that holds offenders accountable but takes also tries preserving home settings for low-level and non-violent offenders.
“Not only are we helping mothers reunite with their kids, have healthy babies, get clean and sober, and on a path to recovery, we are truly disrupting this intergenerational struggle by treating kids in a primary prevention program.” Jennifer Hancock said during a virtual panel on Wednesday.
Hancock is the President and CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States. Advocates recommended lawmakers consider creating more:
- Family-friendly visitation policies
- Focusing incarceration on those who pose a threat to public safety, instead of men and women convicted of non-violent crimes
- Minimizing financial barriers to better prevent low-level offenders from serving additional time and further disrupting the family setting
“There was a law that passed recently in Tennessee that says sentencing decisions should consider community-based alternatives for any non-violent offenses when a person is a minor child’s primary caregiver," one speaker said.
KYA's website includes this belief: "Having a parent incarcerated can negatively impact a child’s behavioral, educational, and health outcomes. Even short stays in jail for a parent can create negative consequences for children and for tYhe parent’s ability to financially support the family."
Members of the KYA say there are ways to hold offenders accountable while protecting families. According to their research, nearly half of all people serving time in Kentucky are parents.