Who’s Serving the Sentences?
By: Neil Siskind
A man commits a violent crime, pleads guilty, and is sentenced to 10 years in prison. Well deserved.
But he has two children, a 4 year old boy and a 5 year old girl. How will the voids in their lives be filled? Who will be their father? Not only do they have one less provider and protector, but, with some likelihood, they are in an environment where crime thrives around them.
These children are now set up for trouble; to become criminals as a survival strategy, or simply as the result of following the example set for them. Through nature or nurture, survival or thrills, the potential for their own criminal behavior is high.
Alternatively, they could now become crime victims where they have no paternal figure to provide security.
What role does the government play in the lives of such children? By the time of sentencing, the respective court or district attorney is well aware that a respective defendant has children. Are there any programs in place to ensure the safety of these children? Who will pay for their food if their mother does not work? Who knows? Who cares?
These children must now learn the harsh realities of life- and fast. They have no father. They may have no money. They may not be safe. Nobody cares.
The Fatherhood Assignment was created to contemplate and advocate for the addressing of such a problem. We encourage and implore communities as well as governments to develop programs and systems to take care of children when their fathers go to prison. We, as a society, should not, necessarily, support the children financially (aside from financial aid programs for which the family is eligible). But we should ensure the children’s basic safety from harm, famine and absence of acceptable shelter when their father is imprisoned. These are community and governmental concerns and responsibilities. Communities and/or governments should also ensure that a responsible, vetted, male figure is, at the least, helpful in the children’s lives and in providing some level of paternal guidance. The Fatherhood Assignment can help in this regard.
Criminals should serve their sentences. But children should not serve their parents’ sentences by living in fear, poverty and danger and with no paternal oversight at all. That is not justice……that’s just creating more victims.