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All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated

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One in ten American children has a parent under criminal justice supervision right now - incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. One in thirty-three American children goes to sleep without access to a parent because that parent is in jail. Despite these staggering numbers, the children of prisoners remain largely invisible to society. Following in the tradition of the be One in ten American children has a parent under criminal justice supervision right now - incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. One in thirty-three American children goes to sleep without access to a parent because that parent is in jail. Despite these staggering numbers, the children of prisoners remain largely invisible to society. Following in the tradition of the bestseller Random Family, journalist Nell Bernstein shows, through the deeply moving stories of real families, how the children of the incarcerated are routinely punished for their parents' status; ignored, neglected, stigmatized, and endangered, with minimal effort made to help them cope. Topics range from children's experiences at the time of their parent's arrest, to laws and politics that force even low-level offenders to forfeit their parental rights, to alternative sanctions that take into account prisoners' status as mothers and fathers. All Alone in the World defines a crucial aspect of criminal justice and, in doing so, illuminates a critical new realm of human rights.


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One in ten American children has a parent under criminal justice supervision right now - incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. One in thirty-three American children goes to sleep without access to a parent because that parent is in jail. Despite these staggering numbers, the children of prisoners remain largely invisible to society. Following in the tradition of the be One in ten American children has a parent under criminal justice supervision right now - incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. One in thirty-three American children goes to sleep without access to a parent because that parent is in jail. Despite these staggering numbers, the children of prisoners remain largely invisible to society. Following in the tradition of the bestseller Random Family, journalist Nell Bernstein shows, through the deeply moving stories of real families, how the children of the incarcerated are routinely punished for their parents' status; ignored, neglected, stigmatized, and endangered, with minimal effort made to help them cope. Topics range from children's experiences at the time of their parent's arrest, to laws and politics that force even low-level offenders to forfeit their parental rights, to alternative sanctions that take into account prisoners' status as mothers and fathers. All Alone in the World defines a crucial aspect of criminal justice and, in doing so, illuminates a critical new realm of human rights.

30 review for All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This book is extremely moving and really inspires you to want to do something to help children and families who have been affected by incarceration. It's true, as some goodreads reviewers have pointed out, that the author takes a very sympathetic view of the parents and doesn't talk much about their crimes, but I was comfortable with that as incarcerated people are not exactly people who usually get an abundance of sympathy in our society. The academic in me did want a little more rigor and cont This book is extremely moving and really inspires you to want to do something to help children and families who have been affected by incarceration. It's true, as some goodreads reviewers have pointed out, that the author takes a very sympathetic view of the parents and doesn't talk much about their crimes, but I was comfortable with that as incarcerated people are not exactly people who usually get an abundance of sympathy in our society. The academic in me did want a little more rigor and context around the use of statistics throughout, but it was a minor concern in an otherwise compelling reading experience.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is a book about the children who are left behind when their mothers or fathers (or both) are incarcerated in the United States. This book is written by a journalist but as easily could have been written by a social worker because of the way that she writes and the ease with which she discusses topics like abandonment, attachment issues, and role models. Each chapter addresses a different part of the incarceration process such as arrest, sentencing, visiting, foster care, and re-entry among This is a book about the children who are left behind when their mothers or fathers (or both) are incarcerated in the United States. This book is written by a journalist but as easily could have been written by a social worker because of the way that she writes and the ease with which she discusses topics like abandonment, attachment issues, and role models. Each chapter addresses a different part of the incarceration process such as arrest, sentencing, visiting, foster care, and re-entry among them. In each chapter, she includes interviews with children and their parents or caregivers and how they felt, what they saw, and what they experienced. All of them were sad, some of them were horrific, such as an anecdote of a person driving on a freeway being arrested for outstanding warrants on a traffic stop and the arresting officer did not notice (or care to notice) that there were three small children in the car that were simply left behind; one of the children was hit by a passing car when attempting to leave. Also included in each chapter are community diversion programs or case management programs that have been proven to work such as job training, parenting classes, Girl Scouts Behind Bars programs and others. This book was written relatively recently, in 2005, and would make an excellent addition to legal or forensic social work class textbook requirements. This book was easy to digest and thought-provoking.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cecily Sailer

    An important book exploring the many ways America’s prison system disrupts the lives of children and families, and the gross lack of support and attention for the healing needed — for those who commit crimes, those who lose their parents to the prison system, and the caregivers who step up to care for the children left behind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gail Smith

    Vitally important work for understanding the impact of parental incarceration, the intersection between the child welfare system and the prison system, and how our current policies and practices actually create crime rather than support families. A must-read for anyone who works with prisoners and their families. Compellingly written.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather Edmondson

    I enjoyed this book and found it very sad that the issues addressed in it are still very large issues today. I only gave it 3 stars because IMO the chapters have a tendency to repeat themselves, which felt like filler. I like the layout of each chapter in starting with stories and ending with hope. I would say read it and see what you get out of it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marnie Lansdown

    What a thought-provoking book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Murray

    Great read for teachers or other professionals that work with children/adolescents that may find themselves in this life scenario.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daisygirl825

    Read 2 chapters. Not interesting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    3.5 stars. It tells how children are affected when parents are incarcerated. For me it wasn't a big surprise. However, social-science-style, the book is a little blamey and preachy, sometimes portraying police officers in a bad light but never blaming the incarcerated person for what they did to their children by getting in trouble in the first place. This book is definitely worth reading. 3.5 stars. It tells how children are affected when parents are incarcerated. For me it wasn't a big surprise. However, social-science-style, the book is a little blamey and preachy, sometimes portraying police officers in a bad light but never blaming the incarcerated person for what they did to their children by getting in trouble in the first place. This book is definitely worth reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ann Michael

    Compelling argument for revamping the incarceration system...some sane proposals for change, many of which would be relatively inexpensive to implement. Very sad stories, though--occasionally hard to read. People should read this one. I had no idea, for example, about the inflated collect-call rates that make phoning home so difficult for prisoners.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shellie

    This book is a comprehensive study of what happens to children when their parents are incarcerated, starting with the arrest, to reentry. It is extremely well researched. The author interviewed several different families and organizations on the topic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    Great book on how incarceration affects children and some good ideas to help with family reunification before and during return/re-entry back into the home and community.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hamed Farmand

    This is book about affect of parental incarceration on their children was written by a journalist who worked in the area of incarceration. Truly recommended to whom are working on this field.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A compelling, heavily reported look at the damage done to children by our overuse of prison.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Corbul

  16. 5 out of 5

    AnnMarie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Perkins

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kalyn Johnson

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

  21. 4 out of 5

    Superman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

  23. 5 out of 5

    Todd Honig

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joan Alfano

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erin Boyington

  28. 4 out of 5

    Suphatra

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

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