You are on page 1of 8

Parental Incarceration 1

Smarthinking Tutor Response Form

Your tutor has written overview comments about your essay in the form below. Your tutor has also
embedded comments [in bold and in brackets] within your essay. Thank you for choosing
Smarthinking to help you improve your writing!

Hello Robbie! My name is Rachael K and I look forward to working with you on this Essay Center
Review to improve your writing today. Let's get started!

*Writing Strength:

Robbie, one thing I think you do very well with are your topic sentences. They introduce the topic of
each paragraph and allow the reader to preview what is come within the following paragraph.

Today in America, we face a very difficult issue, we have a substantial number of American children
living with parental incarceration, despite the research that proves there are extremely detrimental
effects for children who have parents that have been incarcerated.

Well done on this, Robbie. This sentence introduces the issue, why it’s an issue and how it affects
children.

Content Development:

Robbie, I would suggest adding more content development in terms of what studies you are focusing
on and why. You begin discussing studies within the second body paragraph and more contextual
background is needed for the reader to understand your main arguments.

First, I’d like to begin with where we, as Americans, are today regarding the harmful effects that
growing up with parental incarceration causes. Studies show that 5 million, or one in 14 American
children have had a parent in prison.

Which studies in particular are you discussing? What studies show that 5 million American children
have had parents in prison? Why is this statistic so important to your argument?

*Robbie L. 10235580 has requested that you respond to the Grammar & Mechanics:

Robbie, I see more pressing issues than grammar and mechanics, so I will defer to another heading.

*Robbie L. 10235580 has requested that you respond to the Sentence Structure:

Robbie, I noticed you struggled with how to use semi-colons within a sentence to list things. Semi-
colons are useful when it comes to separating ideas or connecting them. In the case of the sentence I
pointed out within your first paragraph, semi-colons are being used incorrectly here.

Parental incarceration is associated with a higher number of other major, potentially traumatic life
events; low school engagement, more problems in school and more emotional difficulties among
children 6 to 11; and a greater likelihood of problems in school among the youth ages 12-17, and less
parental monitoring as stated by Murphy, D. & Cooper, P. M. (2015).

I would suggest breaking up a few of these sentences because this is technically considered a very
long run-on sentence. I would revise it like so.
Parental Incarceration 2

Parental incarceration is associated with a higher number of other major, potentially traumatic life
events, such as low school engagement, more problems in school and more emotional difficulties
among children 6 to 11. A greater likelihood of problems in school occur among the youth ages 12-17,
and less parental monitoring as stated by Murphy, D. & Cooper, P. M. (2015).

This revision has a better flow because you are not joining two dependent clauses together. When
using a semi-colon to join two sentences, you must have an independent clause on each side of the
semi-colon, like so.

Although Twister is my favorite game, I find it very hard to play; I like Yahtzee better.

Use of Resources:

Robbie, remember that APA citations should be placed at the end of a sentence when citing
something. Also, be sure to look over your paper for direct quotations longer than 3 lines. These
quotations should be placed in a block quotation, like so.

The press release “Smarthinking Launches New Interactive Website” (2011) highlighted the
effectiveness of their new site:

The new site provides users with a rich, immersive experience that demonstrates the
techniques Smarthinking has honed in order to achieve its track record of over 3
million successful online student tutoring sessions coupled with an extensive body of
research. Based on clear results, Smarthinking improves student success and
retention. (para. 1)

You have a quotation on the third page that should be made into a block quotation. Be sure to
introduce the source, why the quotation is important and then format it like the one above.

Summary of Next Steps:

 Revise for semi-colon usage.

 Revise for block quotes.

 Explain which studies you are examining and why.

Thank you for submitting your essay for a review. I enjoyed helping you with this step in the revision
process. Have a good day! Sincerely, Rachael K

You can find more information about writing, grammar, and usage in the Smarthinking Writer's
Handbook.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Please look for comments [in bold and in brackets] in your essay below.
Thank you for submitting your work to Smarthinking! We hope to see you again soon.
Parental Incarceration 3

The Adverse Effects of Parental Incarceration for Children in the U.S.

Robbie Young

California Baptist University (OPS) Riverside, CA

The Adverse Effects of Parental Incarceration for Children in the U.S.


Parental Incarceration 4

Today in America, we face a very difficult issue, we have a substantial number of

American children living with parental incarceration, despite the research that proves there are

extremely detrimental effects for children who have parents that have been incarcerated. Parental

incarceration is associated with a higher number of other major, potentially traumatic life events;

low school engagement, more problems in school and more emotional difficulties among

children 6 to 11; and a greater likelihood of problems in school among the youth ages 12-17, and

less parental monitoring as stated by Murphy, D. & Cooper, P. M. (2015). [Robbie, this

would be considered a run-on sentence because the semi-colon is used incorrectly. While

it’s okay to use them to connect ideas, this sentence needs to be revised.] With the sources

found, I will be describing where we stand today regarding this problem, the cause of this

problem, and what experts have proposed as solutions to this problem. I also want to give a little

insight on which group of experts I agree with regarding a solution to the problem. I researched

this topic by reading various articles online and I also read a few chapters of Michelle

Alexander’s book titled The New Jim Crow. [Be sure to place the book title in italics.]

First, I’d like to begin with where we, as Americans, are today regarding the harmful

effects that growing up with parental incarceration causes. Studies show that 5 million, or one in

14 American children have had a parent in prison. [Which studies in particular?] There are

also many studies that show that children who grow up with parents in prison face many other

challenges, including living in unsafe environments and growing up in foster care.

Unfortunately, in addition to these struggles, parents who are released from a long-term prison

sentence often have a difficult time connecting with their children on an interpersonal level. As

stated by Haney, C (2001), “Prisoners learn to find safety in social invisibility by becoming as

inconspicuous and unobtrusively disconnected from others as possible. The self-imposed social
Parental Incarceration 5

withdrawal and isolation may mean that they retreat deeply into themselves, trust virtually no

one, and adjust to prison stress by leading isolated lives of quiet desperation.” [The in-text

citation should be at the end of the sentence. Also, I would consider making this a block

quote since it’s more than three lines.] This description is of someone who is mentally unstable

and ultimately unfit to be in the same home as a child. As a result, more than half of the children

who have experienced parental incarceration have also had to live with someone who has a

substance abuse problem. In addition, more than a third of these children have also witnessed

violence between their parents or guardians, and have witnessed or experienced violence in their

neighborhoods. These facts are not coincidental at all, they are the direct effects of the causes I

will be mentioning next in my research.

In review, I learned about the ways America ended up number one in the world for the

country with the highest number of its citizens that are imprisoned. Mass incarceration is a huge

problem for Americans. In the U.S there has been a 300 percent increase in incarcerations from

1980 to 2000, thus overpopulating most prisons. California alone has more people incarcerated

than the entire population of France says Patten, D. (2016). He also goes on to question the fact

that the number of people incarcerated has soared over the past 30 years while the crime rate has

remained the same or even decreased. The inmate population increased from 200,000 in 1973 to

1.5 million says Collier, L. (2014). Patten, D. (2016) credits the incarceration increases to the

war on drugs, which was incited by President Ronald Reagan. This war also began the “tough on

crime” rhetoric that never dissipated. That is why Haney (2001) stated that 94 percent of

individuals entering the prison system were incarcerated for non-violent, drug related crimes.

This is the main reason for the high number of parents in prison.
Parental Incarceration 6

Another cause of this problem is the fact that America has failed to handle the mental

health crisis we face today. Some scholars argue that placing these non-violent offenders in a

prison environment can be very detrimental. Haney (2001) also noted that he witnessed cases

where inmates entered prison with no signs of mental illness and left completely changed. Haney

(2001) also stated that the negative psychological consequences of long-term solitary-like

confinement include: an impaired sense of identity; hypersensitivity to stimuli; cognitive

dysfunction (confusion, memory loss, ruminations); irritability, anger, aggression, and/or rage;

other-directed violence, such as stabbings, attacks on staff, property destruction, and collective

violence; lethargy, helplessness and hopelessness; chronic depression; self-mutilation and/or

suicidal ideation, impulses, and behavior; anxiety and panic attacks; emotional breakdowns;

and/or loss of control; hallucinations, psychosis and/or paranoia; overall deterioration of mental

and physical health. This is reportedly caused by prisonization, which is explained as the process

of new inmates learning to adapt to the harsh realities of prison culture and following an

unwritten set of guidelines on how to behave while in prison. These guidelines include having to

hide emotions to remain a “tough guy” image and encourages inmates to participate in other

illegal activities while in prison to gain status. Another reason why inmates are reportedly

mentally unstable is because prisons have implemented a practice called solitary confinement-

which is when prisoners are forced to remain in their cells for 23 hours at a time to avoid any

violent outbursts. With little to no programming or meaningful social interactions, including calls

home to their families, being subjected to such practices may be the reason why 64 percent of jail

inmates, 54 percent of state prisoners, and 45 percent of federal prisoners report mental health

concerns and receive little to no treatment regarding those concerns before they are released back
Parental Incarceration 7

into their communities as reported by Murphy and Cooper (2015). In summation, the lack of

mental health reform in the prison system is another reason why so many parents are in prison.

Finally, I’d like to discuss the very similarly posed ideas and new policy changes that

each of my sources provided as ways to help keep more parents in the home and out of prison,

solving this nationwide dilemma. Collier, Murphy, and Cooper even cite Haney in some parts of

their articles, which really gave me a clear image of how much these authors are in agreeance to

the solutions available to this problem. The Obama administration also worked hard to help solve

this problem by reducing prison time for federal inmates who were imprisoned for certain non-

violent, drug related charges. According to Collier (2014) Congress is also considering the

Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act, which would provide more drug treatment and job

training and would allow inmates who complete such programs to reduce their sentences.

Murphy and Cooper (2015) suggested that encouraging communication between imprisoned

parents and their children, and improving the settings for visits would aide these children in

maintaining an emotional connection with their parents and may also help improve the mental

health of these children. Murphy and Cooper (2015) also argued that educators should become

better informed about the needs of children with incarcerated parents and develop strategies on

how to help improve their chances of academic success. Haney (2001) suggests that no prisoner

should be released directly out of supermax or solitary confinement and back into the free world

without first spending an extended amount of time decompressing. Prisons must provide inmates

with the ability to cope and be treated for the adverse effects of long term isolation. I agree with

Haney and Collier that more needs to be done, regarding mental health, before inmates are

released back to their former communities. Educators should also undergo specific training to

help them better understand the children of incarcerated parents and enable them to help remove
Parental Incarceration 8

the negative stigmas surrounding this issue. After extended research, I have decided to do my

final research project on the adverse effects of parental incarceration for African-American

children and how to begin the fight to overcome these disadvantages. I will begin a video

interview with the black children I know who have been affected by having a parent in prison

and having to live with that reality.

[Be sure to place your references on a new page.]

References

Collier, L. (2014). The United States leads the world in incarceration. A new report explores

why- and offers recommendations for fixing the system. Monitor on Psychology.

Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/10/incarceration.aspx

Haney, C. (2001) The Psychological Impact of Incarceration: Implications for post-prison

adjustment. Office of the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation. Retrieved from:

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/psychological-impact-incarceration-implications-post-

prison-adjustment

Murphy, D. & Cooper, P. M. (2015). Parents behind bars: What happens to their children? News

and politics. Retrieved from: https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/one-14-

children-us-has-had-parent-jail-or-prison

Patten, D. (2016). The mass incarceration of nations and the global war on drugs: Comparing the

United States’ domestic and foreign drug policies. Social Justice. Retrieved from

http://www.socialjusticejournal.org/