Important story in USA Today today on multigenerational crime, how it runs in families who show how to do time, and how we brainiacs in corr sent are only now starting to glom onto the problem. Excerpts:
Nearly half of the 2 million inmates in state prisons across the USA — 48% — say they have relatives who also have been incarcerated, according to a Justice Department report in 2004, the most recent comprehensive survey of state prison populations. . . .
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says an estimated 2 million children with one or both parents incarcerated face the greatest risk of perpetuating the cycle of crime across generations. As part of a pilot project this year, the department will try to link 3,000 of those children with "mentors" to assist with counseling and other social needs, says Curtis Porter, an administrator in the department's Family and Youth Services Bureau.
Porter says the number of children with incarcerated parents is a conservative estimate that may not capture the entire population. He suggests generational problems associated with such families are more serious.
"There is a replication and a recycling of crime across generations," University of Maryland criminologist John Laub says. "It's a huge problem."
Family ties are ingrained in just about every part of the nation's criminal justice system. On California's death row, prison spokeswoman Terry Thornton says, there are six sets of brothers among the 667 condemned prisoners awaiting death by lethal injection.
In Texas, which has executed six sets of siblings, there are two sets of cousins on death row. An additional dozen or so death row inmates have relatives serving time in other parts of the state prison system, spokeswoman Michelle Lyons says.
And, of course, there’s the prototypical DA’s office rep denying that upbringing and circumstances have any impact at all on how people turn out. She needs a strong dose of The Situationist. There’s lead paint missing from a house somewhere.