According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in the United States 1 in 3 Black and 1 in 6 Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of being sentenced time in prison at least once in their lifetime. Boys are five times as likely to be incarcerated as girls. In general, all children are at risk for incarceration at younger and younger ages.

The largest factor driving children into prison, besides race, is poverty. It’s been proven that children need health coverage, early childhood nurturing, and properly funded educational systems. It’s no secret that children function better if they are treated without abuse or neglect and have mental health services available. Substance abuse can also influence whether or not a child ends up in prison. If a child is incarcerated, the juvenile system can harden them further, making it more difficult to restore a family unit.

Programs like the Children’s Defense Fund are passionate about speaking against policies that encourage criminalizing children at younger and younger ages. To learn more about this program, visit their site here.