- Report Published -
|Developing a Methodology for Counting Children of Incarcerated Parents|
|Department of Criminal Justice Services|
|SJR 204 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|Senate Joint Resolution 204 of the 1993 General Assembly directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop a methodology for counting the children of parents incarcerated in jails and prisons. Currently there is no system for identifying and counting these children. The study to develop the methodology was conducted concurrently with several other studies concerning children of incarcerated parents that were directed by the 1993 General Assembly. Major findings of the study directed by SJR 204 are as follows:|
1. An exact methodology for counting the children of incarcerated parents should not be recommended until the needs of these children and their caretakers, and those responsible for meeting these needs, have been clearly defined. Initiatives are underway to provide this data, but these initiatives will not be completed until 1994. Until these needs are assessed, only general data collection methodologies should be recommended. When the needs assessment data is available in 1994, the interagency Steering Committee/Study Team on Children of Incarcerated Parents should address the development a specific methodology.
2. The system for counting the children of incarcerated parents should be incorporated into already existing data collection systems. Otherwise, a new system for collecting this data would impose an undue burden on those already responsible for collecting, reporting and maintaining data on a growing number of inmates.
3. There are several points in existing systems for collecting data on inmates in both local jails and the Department of Corrections (DOC) which could serve as points for collecting data about the number of children with inmate parents. However, the data collection procedures now used at these points will have to be modified to collect this additional data.
4. The Department of Corrections is in a better position than local jails to implement a standardized, statewide methodology for collecting data about the number of children of incarcerated parents. An appropriate method for collecting this data appears to be by modifying the Pre/post-Sentence investigation (PSI) report.
Modifying the PSI report to collect this additional data would require changing a data collection procedure used-throughout the state, as well as the reprogramming of a major state database. Any decision to modify the PSI for this purpose should be made only after the uses of the data and the data reporting requirements have been fully defined.
5. Points for collecting data on the number of children with parents incarcerated in local jails include the magistrate's office, pretrial release program offices, and the local jails themselves. Procedures already used at these locations to collect data about inmates' families could be modified and standardized to collect additional data about the number of children with incarcerated parents. Planning and implementation of these efforts should be conducted in cooperation with statewide representatives of all agencies and organizations affected by these actions.
6. Data collected about the children of inmate parents incarcerated in local jails should be reported to the local human services agencies responsible for delivering services to these children. Specific procedures for reporting this data cannot be developed until the needs of these children have been more fully assessed.