Family Incarceration is Not the Solution: Proven Alternatives to Mass Incarceration of Families

Publication date: 
June 2018
Family Incarceration is Not the Solution: Proven Alternatives to Mass Incarceration of Families

On June 20, 2018 President Trump signed Executive Order 13841, titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” which called for the temporary halt of family separation while the administration worked to identify places where they could incarcerate children alongside their parents. Incarcerating families, for any period of time, is detrimental to children’s long-term health and development, with consequences such as suicidal gestures and ideation, anxiety, sleeplessness, behavioral regressions, and loss of appetite.

Along with being less humane, family incarceration is more expensive than alternative to detention programs. In its Congressional Budget Justification for fiscal year 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated that it costs approximately $319.37, per person, per day, to house a person in a family detention center. In comparison, other alternative programs cost as low as 30 cents to $8.04 per person, per day. These alternative methods include family-based case management, community-based programs, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) check-ins and home visits.

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