My Mom/Dad is in Prison: Children’s Rights and Information Needs

Beyond seeing people behind bars as a special patron group with specific information needs, children with parents behind bars also need to be seen as a patron group to supply information needs to and specifically  included in collection development.

To learn more about what happens to children when their parents enter the Prison Industrial Complex, you can read the Urban Institute’s report Families Left Behind: The Hidden Costs of Incarceration and Reentry

Children with parents in prison have their own bill of rights entitled:

Children of Incarcerated Parents – A Bill of Rights.

  1. I have the right to be kept safe and informed at the time of my parent’s arrest.
  2. I have the right to be heard when decisions are made about me.
  3. I have the right to be considered when decisions are made about my parent.
  4. I have the right to be well cared for in my parent’s absence.
  5. I have the right to speak with, see and touch my parent.
  6. I have the right to support as I struggle with my parent’s incarceration.
  7. I have the right not to be judged, blamed or labeled because of my parent’s incarceration.
  8. I have the right to a lifelong relationship with my parent.

The San Francisco Partnership for Incarcerated Parents have an extended pdf that explores each one of these rights, gives next steps to achieve these rights, and personal stories.

Remember Reading Rainbow? They featured this episode, Visiting Day, focused on families with a parent in prison in their series. It aired December 15, 2004 and January 17, 2005. Watch below!

I once read that the child of a parent behind bars copes similar to that of a child who lost a parent through death. Therefor, the reading experience, like bibliotherapy, can create a dialogue where coping can begin. Now, what books are there? You can find book lists at ALA’s Association for Library Service for Children which organizes book by age group… or here, here, here, and here!

Here are some more sources:

S & F Online by Barnard Center for Research on Women: 8.2 (Spring 2010) Children of Incarcerated Parents 

National Conference of State Legislatures’ Children of Incarcerated Parents

National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated

This is part of a series on exploring some prisoners’ rights that affect prisoners as patrons. Other blog posts include:

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