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Giving Offenders' Kids Incentive and Direction to Succeed

TDCJ Mission and Philosophy

In keeping with its mission of providing public safety, promoting positive changes in offender behavior, and assisting offenders in their transition to the community, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice recognizes the importance of maintaining familial ties, particularly that of offenders and their children. To that end, the TDCJ is committed to providing opportunities for visitation as well as incorporating programs which, in respect to maintaining public safety, include children of offenders or impact the children of offenders.

Without intervention, children of incarcerated parents are six 1 to eight 2 times more likely to become involved in a criminal lifestyle. According to a recent National Institute of Corrections (NIC) solicitation, "Parental arrest and confinement lead to stress, trauma, stigmatization and separation problems for their children. These problems are coupled with existing problems that include poverty, violence, parental substance abuse, high crime environments, intrafamily abuse, abuse and neglect, multiple caregivers and/or prior separations. As a result, these children often exhibit a broad variety of behavioral, emotional, health, and educational problems that are compounded by the pain of separation." 3 Over half of the juveniles confined in a secure institution had a parent that has been or is incarcerated. 4

When a parent is imprisoned, the remaining family members face significant changes, including the roles and responsibilities of its members, a decline in income levels, and where children are involved, separation from the imprisoned parent as well as other siblings. The gender of the parent is an important factor when considering the impact of incarceration, for when fathers go to prison, ninety percent (90%) of the time mothers assume full responsibility for the care of the child(ren). In contrast, when mothers are imprisoned, about twenty-eight percent (28%) of fathers assume the care giving responsibilities of the child(ren). The most common outcome for children of incarcerated mothers is placement with grandparents or other next of kin. 5

It is also imperative that communities provide preventive and intervention services. Children are often overwhelmed, and may try to cope through self-defeating behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, staying out late and exercising poor time management. Many times depression will set in and manifest itself in anger and violence or despair and withdrawal. Listed at the end of this document are agencies which offer services to high risk children.

1 LIS, Inc. (February 2002). Services For Families of Prison Inmates, Special Issues in Corrections. National Institute of Corrections, Longmont, Colorado: U.S. Department of Justice.
2 Gabel and Shindledecker. (July 1993). Characteristics of Children Whose Parents Have Been Incarcerated. Hospital and Community Psychiatry.
3 LIS, Inc. (February 2002). Services For Families of Prison Inmates, Special Issues in Corrections. National Institute of Corrections, Longmont, Colorado: U.S. Department of Justice.
4 Johnston, Denise, M.D. (c. 2001). Children of Criminal Offenders. FACSNET
5 Parke, R. and Clarke-Stewart, K.A. (2002). Effects of Parental Incarceration on Young Children. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Remarks from Former Chairman Crain

Christina Melton Crain, Former Chairman, Texas Board of Criminal Justice
Christina Melton Crain
Former Chairman
Texas Board of Criminal Justice

In my profession, as an attorney, I focus in large part on the representation of minors, many of whom have been abused and/or neglected or are showing signs of juvenile delinquency. Nine times out of ten, I find these minors have at least one parent who has been or is currently under some form of correctional supervision – whether it be probation, incarceration or parole.

With recent findings by the Bureau of Justice indicating that children of offenders have a 70% greater likelihood of becoming involved in the criminal justice system, a nationwide focus has begun to target services for this high risk group in order to assist in breaking this cycle.

Cognizant of the vital role all members of a family play in the life of a child, I am so pleased that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has implemented the GO KIDS initiative. GO KIDS touches both offenders, through programs geared towards strengthening the parent-child relationship, as well as, the offenders’ families and children by providing a reliable connection to valuable community resources.

Due to my passion in this area, I am personally committed to GO KIDS and am thrilled that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has implemented this initiative which will make a significant difference in the life of children, ultimately impacting the future of Texas.


Remarks from Executive Director Collier

Bryan Collier, Executive Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Bryan Collier
Executive Director
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The goal of the GO KIDS initiative is to help the kids of those persons under criminal justice supervision by identifying and coordinating resources that may assist them. Giving these kids a chance at success benefits us all.

Links and Related References