Relative to the rest of the United States, Minnesota incarcerates only a small percentage of its population. In fact, Minnesota has the second lowest imprisonment rate of all the states. Yet disaggregating the imprisonment rate by race reveals the troublesome fact that African American Minnesotans are in prison at a rate twelve times the rate of whites. Mounting evidence suggests that rather than disrupting a person’s criminal career, incarceration detrimentally impacts a person’s future transitions into conventional domains of life such as employment, education, and family. More immediately, incarceration disrupts not only criminal behavior but other activities as well, such as employment and parenting. As a result, parents who are either in prison or have an incarceration record may have a decreased ability to financially support their children. Thus, it follows that children whose parents are incarcerated are more likely to face poverty.
Given this logic, it is not surprising that in addition to the high rate of incarceration for African American adults relative to white adults, a greater percentage of African American children in Minnesota live in poverty than do white, non-Hispanic children. In fact, both the black-white ratios of incarceration rates (12:1) and child poverty rates (6:1) are above the national averages (7:1 and 3:1) (Western 2008; U.S Census Bureau 2009). I argue that incarceration has an often overlooked but critical effect on the racial disparity of child poverty in Minnesota. This effect emerges as a result of incarceration’s disruption to educational attainment, employment, and family dynamics. Furthermore, bans on federal benefits for felony-drug offenders may function to exacerbate incarceration’s impact on child poverty. To provide context, this work examines some of the policies contributing to the black-white disparity of incarceration in Minnesota.
Myslajek, Crystal. Racial Disparity of Child Poverty in Minnesota: The Hidden Consequence of Incarceration. May 15 2009. June 3 2009. Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
professional paper in partial fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy degree requirements
Racial Disparity of Child Poverty in Minnesota: The Hidden Consequence of Incarceration.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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