North America

Half of US adults have family member who has been in prison: Study


Nearly half of all American adults have an immediate family member who has experienced incarceration, according to a new study, underscoring the extent of mass imprisonment in the United States.

The study published Thursday by Cornell University and lobbying group, found that about 45 percent of US adults (around 113 million people) have an immediate family member who has been incarcerated for at least one night in jail or prison.

The study was based on online and phone surveys conducted on a nationally representative sample of 4,041 adults in the summer of 2018.

One in seven US adults has an immediate family member who has been incarcerated for at least one year, and one in 34 adults has had an immediate family member spend 10 years or longer in prison, it added.

An estimated 6.5 million people, or one in 38, have an immediate family member who is currently incarcerated in jail or prison, the report said.

Incarceration results in a variety of direct and indirect harms, according to the study.

“Research has shown that even short periods of incarceration can be devastating to people’s lives and additional punishments such as fines and fees,” it said.

“Restrictions on employment and housing, and the loss of basic human rights limit opportunities for success long after individuals have completed their sentences.”

The study found that black people are 50 percent more likely than white people to have had a family member incarcerated, and three times more likely to have had a family member incarcerated for one year or longer.

Blacks imprisoned 5 times more than whites

Black Americans were incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate of 5 times that of white Americans, according to a new report.

The report said its findings “should serve as a wake-up call and a stark reminder of how much work is needed to alleviate the harms caused by mass incarceration and unravel the complicated tangle of laws that perpetuate it.”

The report comes as US President Donald Trump has given his backing to a bipartisan bill aimed at shortening prison sentences for certain nonviolent offenders.

The United States continues to incarcerate more people than any other country in the world, the report said.

With 710 prisoners per 100,000 people, the US incarceration rate is far ahead of Western democracies (147 in the United Kingdom, 118 in Canada, 108 in Belgium, 98 in France).

Back to top button