Family Responsibility Statements in Judicial Decisions

At a Glance:

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: 2018

Vital Condition: Basic Needs for Health and Safety, Belonging and Civic Muscle

Determinants of Health: adverse childhood experiences, neighborhood safety, belonging and civic muscle, justice system, Incarceration

Affected Population: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Children and Youth, Justice Involved Populations

Research Methods: Qualitative research, Focus Groups, Literature review

Community Types: urban

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The Special Project for Families Affected by Incarceration and the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness conducted an HIA to examine the impact of using a family responsibility statement during the sentencing of a parent or primary caregiver.

In the Louisville metropolitan area, the growing and disparate impact of parental incarceration on children’s health and wellness makes action imperative and urgent. One strategy to prioritize the future of these children is the use of family responsibility statements, a series of questions for authorities to consider that can mitigate the impact of incarceration on families and children.

Kentucky has the nation’s second highest rate of children who have experienced parental incarceration. County data shows racial disparities in local jail incarceration. Having an incarcerated parent is an Adverse Childhood Experience that disproportionately affects African American children in metropolitan Louisville. The HIA recommended developing and piloting the use of family responsibility statements in local courts and educating the public and local government about racial inequities that affect African American children.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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