Are Children Affected by Their Parent’s Criminal Record?

Posted on in Criminal Law

criminal record, Arlington Heights criminal defense attorneyAccording to international statistics, the United States leads the rest of the world in arrests and incarcerations. In the past 40 years, the number of people in this country who are in jails, state correctional facilities, and federal prisons has increased fivefold. There are currently over two million Americans who are incarcerated. Broken down, this means that out of every 100,000 Americans, 716 of them are behind bars.

Even more alarming is the number of people in this country who have criminal records – one out of every three – ranging from arrests without any conviction, minor offenses, and more serious offenses. This means that approximately 100 million Americans are suffering the consequences often associated with a criminal record. Multiple studies have shown that even a minor offense can lead to multiple barriers when it comes to education, employment, housing, and public assistance, leaving those with records struggling financially, many living below the poverty line.

However, it is not just the person with the record who suffers, but the whole family and especially the children. The instability and lack of financial security often has long-term effects on a child’s life. Approximately 35 million children in the United States have at least one parent with a criminal record.

According to one study, the impact of a parent’s criminal record on a child include may:

  • Family income: Since the parent’s criminal record leaves them with a low earning potential, many families are forced to live in poverty. Public assistance is often unavailable because of the parent’s criminal past;
  • Savings or other assets: Even if a parent is able to secure employment, the cost of defending themselves in the criminal justice system, as well as fees, fines, and other costs, can quickly wipe any extra income out. Non-custodial parents who are incarcerated are unable to make child support payments, leaving the custodial parent to struggle to provide for the children on their own;
  • Housing: The cost of private housing is often unattainable for a person with a criminal record. Public housing, which would be more affordable, often prohibits residents with criminal records. This leaves the family in an unstable situation, and often forces the family to remain separated; and  
  • Education: A person with a criminal record is often not entitled to any financial assistance for higher education or training, leaving them without any means to qualify for better paying jobs.

In Illinois, there are currently more than 300,000 children who have at least one parent with a criminal record. If you have been arrested for a crime, contact an experienced Arlington Heights defense attorney, who will not only protect your rights, but those of your family, as well.