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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Parent Incarcerated: Children Feel the Pain

About 61,000 children in Arkansas have or have had a parent behind bars, and a new report highlights the impact that is having on their well being. (Montian Noowong)
About 61,000 children in Arkansas have or have had a parent behind bars, and a new report highlights the impact that is having on their well being. (Montian Noowong)
April 25, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - About 61,000 Arkansas children currently have or have had a parent in jail or prison. A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation looks at the impact that has on kids, and finds they're more likely to be homeless, and their families have a hard time making ends meet financially.

There's also a lot of emotional stress and strain that's put on a family when a parent is incarcerated. Paul Kelly, senior policy analyst for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, says it destabilizes the family and leaves a vacuum in the child's life.

"One thing that makes children feel safe and comfortable and secure is having consistency in their lives," he says. "And knowing that every day is going to be sort of like the other."

Kelly says it has a negative impact on a child's development and well being. There are more than 5.1 million children in the United States with a parent who's been incarcerated.

Scot Spencer, associate director for advocacy and influence for the Casey Foundation, says losing regular involvement with a parent during the formative years can have a lifelong impact on a child. He says many are dealing with the loss at a very young age.

"A great number of those kids are under 10," Spencer says. "More than 15 percent of children with parents in federal prison, and twenty percent with parents in state prison are four or younger."

Spencer says the justice system needs to take into account the impact on families when making sentencing decisions.

Kelly says many of these kids end up with behavioral problems.

"We like to hold people accountable," says Kelly. "But if we don't provide children with viable good choices, how can we hold them accountable for how they behave and what they do, and what happens to them when something like this enters their life?"

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR