Idaho has second highest women's incarceration rate

Idaho has the second highest women’s incarceration rate in the nation, according to an article in last week’s Idaho Statesman. Drug possession accounts for more than a third of female offenders. About 1.5 million children nationwide have locked-up parents, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. They are five times more likely than their peers to be imprisoned; 1 in 10 will be incarcerated before turning 18.

Those are some pretty sobering statistics. Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke spoke at the 2012 College and Career Ready Summit sponsored by the Idaho Commission for Libraries. He relayed information about the situation in Idaho and how many children feed into the “cradle to prison pipeline,” a term coined by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in a report they produced in 2007.

About 10 percent of children of incarcerated parents are in the foster care system nationally. Idaho surveys have put the foster care figure between 10 percent and 17 percent. The rest are in “KinCare,” raised by grandparents or other relatives and friends.

Although there are some pilot sites in Idaho that are providing support for some of the children with incarcerated parents, more could be done to assist these children and the grandparents and others who have taken on the task of supporting their needs.

What role do Idaho libraries have in helping dismantle the pipeline?  

See for a link to the report and more information on the campaign to reduce detention and incarceration by increasing preventive supports and services children need, such as access to quality early childhood development and education services and accessible, comprehensive health and mental health coverage.

The CDF reports that although the majority of fourth graders cannot read at grade level, states spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil.

See Dan Popkey’s 12-23-12 article at