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2.7 Million Children Have a Parent in Prison



Prisonpath posted previously an article about “Sesame Street helps the Children of the Incarcerated.” The United States has the largest prison population in the world with 2.3 million inmates. Over fifty percent of the incarcerated have children under the age of eighteen. One of every twenty-eight kids in the United States has a parent locked up.  When a parent is imprisoned, the effect upon their children is devastating. The loss is far more than economics. The foundation of family life is shattered. The Sesame Street episode told the viewers about one real family in which a single parent, the mother, was imprisoned for embezzlement. The oldest child dropped out of high school to take care of the younger children. It was now his job to walk his young brother to the school bus, take his little sister on the subway to her school, explain why mom was not there, and worry about having food on the table for the following week.

The Florida Department of Corrections and Sesame Street hosted an event in hopes of helping children of incarcerated parents cope with the reality of that incarceration. The event was held at dozens of correctional facilities across the state of Florida including the Mayo Correctional Institution on Saturday, Aug. 17. Besides regular visitation, there were planned activities including the Sesame program on children of the incarcerated. In one part of the show, several kid muppets and an adult are sitting outside on the stoop of their apartment building. Alex, a blue-orange muppet is crying about his classmates at school making fun of him because his father is in jail. The classmates have  taunted him, “You will end up in jail just like your dad.” Alex is consoled by all on the stoop that it is not his fault that his parent went to prison.

Florida’s Mayo Correctional Institution Warden Scott Crews commented, “This is a nationwide event. Florida is one of 10 pilot states to sponsor this event in our nation,” said Mayo Correctional Institution Warden Scott Crews, “we have partnered with Sesame Street to focus on the children of incarcerated parents.”

In Florida, there are over 64,000 children under the age of 18 who have an incarcerated parent. Almost 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent in state or federal prison. Despite this staggering figure, there are very little resources devoted to helping the children through this devastating, life-altering situation. Hopefully, this event will signal a new era  of change for the children of the incarcerated.

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