Report: 50% more parents behind bars than 10 yrs ago

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – More Hoosier moms and dads are winding up behind bars now than 10 years ago.  In fact, we rank second in the nation to Kentucky for the most incarcerated parents according to a study by the Indiana Youth Institute.

Two-thirds of female inmates in Indiana are moms, and more than half of inmates are dads.

People working inside some of our prisons are trying their best to keep families together in hopes of making a difference.

“Dads make mistakes, but they can recover from those mistakes and they can apologize,” Father Daughter Dance organizer Ericka Sanders said.

“This has been the first time that I have been one-on-one with her. I have never had her by herself so it is really special. She is four-years-old and I have been gone for four years. So, it is really special,” father Tim Bowers said.

A father daughter dance at the Indianapolis Re-Entry Educational Facility is one way organizers are trying to lower a growing statistic.

“Men and women who have that and maintain that connection to their family do much better when they are released from prison in terms of whether they come back, whether they get a jog, get educated, get off drugs,” Indiana Department of Corrections Communications Chief Doug Garrison said.

Indiana Youth Institute uncovered Indiana ranks second for the most parents behind bars.  Kentucky was first.  Oklahoma, Ohio, and Michigan also made the top five.

“There has been a 50 percent increase in incarceration across the state over the last decade. Two-thirds of female inmates are moms. More than half of inmates are dads,” Indiana Youth Institute President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz said.

Stanczykiewicz has not been able to pinpoint why more parents are going to jail.

“Right now, all we have is speculation. What we have heard is an increase due to drug use and the sentences that follow those drug arrests and sentencing. So, this is a huge issue in the state of Indiana. We need to make sure people are aware of this so that these kids can get the help that they need.”

IDOC officials tell NewsChannel 15 they have other events they put on during the year to help lower recidivism rates.

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