By Nekima Levy-Pounds, Esq./ Reposted from www.centerformediajustice.org
Currently over 2.7 million children in the U.S. have a parent who is incarcerated. As a result of the failed war on drugs that began in the 1980s, an increasing number of children have not one, but two incarcerated parents. This phenomenon has occurred largely as a result of drug conspiracy laws which make it easier for women to be charged with drug crimes for peripheral involvement in drug activity such as answering telephones or stashing drugs for a boyfriend or spouse. To put this in perspective, the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes, that from 1986 to 1996, the number of female prisoners sentenced to state prisons for drug crimes ballooned from 2,370 to 23,700. The number has continued to grow steadily since then. Sadly, many of the women who are caught in our nation’s drug war are mothers of children under age 18 and were often the sole primary caregiver of their children prior to being incarcerated.