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Are You More Likely to End Up in Jail If One of Your Parents Gets Arrested?

When someone gets arrested and charged with a crime—especially if they are convicted—it can deeply affect their loved ones, especially the children. Many people fear that if one of their parents has been arrested, they are more likely to get in trouble with the law themselves eventually. For children of incarcerated parents (CIP), the fear is even worse if they do get arrested. They can’t help but wonder: Am I doomed to go to prison as my mother or father did?

Let’s unpack this question to see if there’s any truth to it. If one of your parents was arrested and jailed, what is the likelihood that you will be, too?

Debunking the Myth

There are a couple of “statistics” floating around that fuel the fear of CIPs in particular. One says that children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to become “justice-involved.” The other says 75 percent of children with one incarcerated parent will end up in prison themselves.

The problem is, neither of these statistics has any conclusive data to back them up. They are products of a phenomenon we call the “illusory truth effect,” in which the general public assumes something to be true just because it is repeated often.

The Truth About CIPs

Recently, Central Connecticut State University researchers released a study that utterly debunks the “seven-out-of-ten” myth. Their research showed that the actual percentage of children of incarcerated parents who end up in trouble with the law is closer to 32.8 percent, not 75 percent as once believed. In other words, the probability of a CIP following in the footsteps of their incarcerated parent is one in three, not three in four–a much lower rate.

What It Means for You

While the likelihood of jail time “running in the family” is far less than people have made it out to be, there is at least some truth to the notion that CIPs end up in the justice system more often than people whose parents have not been in jail. The reasons for this may be varied, but some of it may occur due to the stigma that follows people with criminal records in their family line. For example, if society tells you that you’re destined for jail because one of your parents went to jail, you’re more likely to believe it yourself. Eventually, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Additionally, make no mistake—the police have heard about the “seven-out-of-ten” statistic, too, which means families of people “in the system” may be watched and scrutinized more closely by local law enforcement.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of any statistic, there is no cosmic force at work that says you are destined for jail because one of your parents was arrested or jailed. We have more control of our destiny than we think. And if you do face criminal charges, hiring a skilled defense attorney can improve your chances of avoiding jail time regardless of what happened to your parents. In other words—you aren’t destined to become a statistic.

The attorneys of Razumich & Associates can provide skilled counsel and protect your rights in the event of criminal charges. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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