Home U.S Orrin Hatch: Resolving hardships for children, families key to criminal justice reform

Orrin Hatch: Resolving hardships for children, families key to criminal justice reform

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“You do the crime, you do the time.” For decades, this mantra has typified much of our country’s approach to criminal law. And there is significant merit to it. Individuals who violate the law must face consequences. A nation where people can cheat and steal and get away with a slap on the wrist is not a place many of us want to live.

Nonetheless, the simplicity of the slogan obscures the complex reality behind criminal convictions and their effect on families and communities. When an individual is sent to prison, that person’s family loses a source of love and financial support.

Children whose parents are incarcerated experience higher rates of behavioral problems, depression and other psychological challenges, as well as lower educational achievement and economic well-being. They are also more likely to engage in criminal activity themselves. Incarceration also impacts spouses and other family members who may be deprived of an important source of income or left to raise a child as a single parent. 

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