Case Study

Assisting children of incarcerated parents

Washington County, Minn.

Assisting children of incarcerated parents is new and is starting to gain steam across Minnesota and the country. It is a major change in directing the atmosphere in a jail from “safety and security” to assistance. Changing the atmosphere, timing, and resources available for parents and children should make visiting at the jail a positive experience for both children and inmates. To create a less stressful, more healthy visiting program for children of incarcerated parents, researchers from the University of Minnesota talked with children of incarcerated parents. Their collaboration showed that small changes in a jail can make a visit by children less anxiety-producing, and much more positive. The Washington County Jail moved immediately to implement many of the changes, including making the atmosphere in the jail more welcoming, streamlining the visiting process for children, and providing learning kits and other materials for families to make the visit less stressful. Positive family relationships and support are crucial for the success of inmates once they return to the community. Assisting them in strengthening the relationship that they have with their children and other family members should add to that success. Expanding the range of family members who may visit, and providing resources to those families who are visiting the jail is also a positive influence on the success of the inmates, 97 percent of whom will return to the community after their incarceration.

Contact:
Ms. Yvonne Klinnert 
Public Information Coordinator

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