Should criminals be incarcerated if they are parents?
“What a ridiculous question,” you exclaim. Of course, they should be punished in accordance with the law.
Now answer this question…
Should their children (who did NOT participate in any of their crimes) also be punished?
Of course, a big NO!
But what really happens when a parent is sent to jail?
His/her kids suffer in a number of different ways even though they were NOT sentenced to prison with their parents.
The incarcerated parent provided them food, shelter, security, emotional support, spiritual guidance and much more.
And now that this parent is put away?
These kids have to settle for much less of these essentials or none of some. Some have to beg for food in order to survive; others become victims of child labour.
These kids are vulnerable; they roam the street and become drawn to gang life, violence, prostitution and such.
These kids are stigmatized. Believe it or NOT, no one wants their kids being friends with a prisoner’s child.
Consider the full spectrum of feelings: Lack, loss, loneliness, fright, shame, anger and abandonment that comes from having a parent in prison and you’ll be close to the picture of gloom some innocent kids are facing.
Many of these kids will suffer needlessly and might follow the destructive paths of their parents and end up in prison themselves if nothing is done. No, this doesn’t have to be so and that’s why we (at Prison Fellowship Nigeria) have a special programme for them…
This programme focuses on the families prisoners leave behind, especially their children. We reach out to them with the love of Jesus Christ. Doing as much as lies within our power to meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
The concept is very simple but has proven to be very effective. We help prisoners maintain contact with their families. We help raise and send support/gifts to their kids and ensure they do NOT feel forsaken and abandoned by everyone.
This produces very positive results: The kids are better catered for, thereby reducing the risk of them turning to a life of crime. Their incarcerated parents have a bigger incentive to reform their lives thereby reducing their chances of re-offending.
We can go on and on about the importance of this programme. But you get it already. That’s why you’ve read this far.
So how can you be a part of it?