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Responsible Fathers, Healthy Communities

Today, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Attorney General Eric Holder co-hosted a Fatherhood Town Hall at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.  The purpose of the town hall was to discuss the importance of fatherhood and how the criminal justice system can help support the successful reentry of fathers back into the community. The Attorney General discussed what the research has shown regarding the effects of incarceration on children:
More than 1.5 million American children have fathers in prison.  More than half of these children are African American.  And we know that children of incarcerated parents suffer from: the physical and emotional separation; the stigma associated with having a parent detained; the loss of financial support; and the disruption caused by introducing new caregivers into a child’s life, no matter how well meaning those caregivers may be.  As a result, children of incarcerated parents often struggle with anxiety, depression, learning problems, and aggression, undermining their own chances of future success.  We know that in many cases maintaining relationships with their parents during incarceration can improve the lives of children, and yet too often our policies have failed to support these relationships.
Approximately 700,000 individuals return to their communities from prison every year.  Of the men that are released, about two-thirds of them reoffend within the first three years.  However, if given temporary housing, job training, and substance abuse or mental health treatment, the rates of recidivism decline.  During today’s town hall, the Attorney General also emphasized the department’s commitment to establishing a more stable and supportive environment for those released:
This year, the Department of Justice awarded $28 million under the Second Chance Act for reentry programs.  These programs include grants to 15 states that will help formerly incarcerated people successfully transition back into their communities.  These grants include parenting training inside facilities and reunification programs for when people are released from incarceration.
The Second Chance Act is the first piece of reentry legislation that acknowledges the critical role that family plays in facilitating successful reentry and allows funds to be used for a wide range of services designed to improve parenting skills, facilitate family reintegration, and improve the functioning of the family through the provisions of counseling/education if needed. To learn more about what the Department of Justice is doing to support the role of fathers and successful offender reentry programs visit the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Second Change page, here.
Updated April 7, 2017