Nearly 1.5 million minor children (younger than 18) have a mother or father in prison -- an increase of more than 500,000 children since 1991 -- according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
The report noted that in 1999, an estimated 721,500 federal and state inmates had minor children. The majority of these inmates were male (93 percent) and predominately held in state prisons (89 percent), rather than in federal prisons (11 percent). Half the parents in state prisons were black, about one-quarter were white and one-fifth were Hispanic. In 1999, an estimated 767,200 black children, 384,500 white children and 301,600 Hispanic children had parents in prison.
The study also found that 44 percent of parents in state prisons were violent offenders, 13 percent were drug traffickers and 77 percent had prior convictions. Nearly 25 percent of parents in state prisons reported histories of alcohol dependency, 14 percent reported mental illnesses and 70 percent reported not having high school diplomas.
Forty percent of imprisoned fathers and 60 percent of imprisoned mothers reported weekly contact with their children by phone, mail or visits. However, 57 percent of incarcerated fathers and 54 percent of incarcerated mothers reported never having personal visits with their children since their admissions to state prisons.
During 1999, the nation's violent crime rate dropped more than 10 percent, reaching its lowest level since 1973 (the year BJS began to measure violent crime) reports BJS. In 1999, approximately 28.8 million violent and property crimes were experienced by Americans age 12 or older compared to 44 million crimes in 1973. According to the report, every type of major personal and property crime decreased between 1993 and 1999.
Victimizations in 1999 included about 21.2 million property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft and household theft), 7.4 million violent crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated...