WHEREAS, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7.3 million children have a parent under some form of correctional supervision. Statistics show that 70% of these children, or 5 million, will become involved with the criminal justice system. More than 2 million children in the U.S. have a parent in state or federal prison - an increase from 500,000 in 1991; and

WHEREAS, the Child Welfare League estimates that children of incarcerated parents are three to six times more likely to exhibit violent or serious delinquent behavior and if the mother was arrested youth are at a greater risk to be arrested two or more times as juveniles. In addition, 40-75% of youth who are arrested for delinquent behavior and/or have “conduct disorder” are arrested in adulthood; and

WHEREAS, long term generational effects of a social structure in which imprisonment is the norm have significant outcomes on families. While their parents are in prison, the children might live with a grandparent, aunt, their other parent, or in a foster home or other facility. These caregivers are likely to be living in poverty and to lack the personal resources necessary to meet the children’s needs. In addition, the children may experience a complex mix of anger, sadness, shame, guilt, and depression. As a result, they often act out inappropriately and have classroom behavior difficulties and low academic performance; and

WHEREAS, the Amachi program helps to reduce the chances of children of incarcerated parents going to jail themselves through one-to-one community based mentoring, modeled after Big Brothers Big Sisters. Studies show that mentoring by a caring and supportive adult significantly reduces a young person’s initiation of drug and alcohol use, improves their school performance and attendance, and reduces incidences of violence; and

WHEREAS, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, although men still are almost 15 times more likely than women to be incarcerated, between June 2003 and June 2004 the female inmate population rose 2.9% as compare to 2.0% for the male population. The Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents estimates that incarcerated mothers are likely to have incarcerated fathers, thus increasing the risk that their children will have both parents in prison and reside in foster care; and

WHEREAS, cities and counties across the nation are absorbing the economic cost of incarceration. Without adequate support mechanisms, children of prisoners are highly likely to go to prison at a rate of 70% that has direct economic consequences; and

WHEREAS, President Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union address, proposed spending $150 million on mentoring children of prisoner programs to reduce the chances of incarceration among this invisible population. To date, the Department of Health and Human Services has allocated $60 million to fund 221 mentoring children of prisoner programs nationally, many of which are working with faith and community based organizations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to mentor children of incarcerated parents in the proven one-to-one community based mentoring model in partnership with faith-based organizations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports providing federal support to both state and local governments in a way that encourages and strengthens increased mentoring children of prisoners coordination among state and local government agencies and non-governmental service providers, including faith and community-based providers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports establishing appropriate processes to ensure both state and local governments are on equal footing in developing collaborative partnerships at the state and local level on mentoring children of prisoners, including adequate representation and input of local governments; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports exploring the elimination of counter-productive barriers which impede successful mentoring children of prisoners programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports efforts to educate and train mayors, city-designated faith-based liaisons, and other public servants on how to best engage faith and community leaders, particularly focusing on efforts which target effective mentoring children of prisoner programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors will convene and spearhead a broader effort through its Mayors Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to create a National Mentoring Children of Prisoners Consortium comprised of several national public interest groups, community advocacy associations, faith and religious leaders, city governments, universities and other experts representative of the Children of Prisoners field to do the following in a broad based national manner: 1) educational and media outreach; 2) technical assistance to help localities implement Best Practice models; 3) information exchange and dissemination; and 4) advocacy and policy outreach on children of prisoner issues.

©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352