When a parent is incarcerated, their children are at greater risk for physical health problems such as asthma, migraines, and later-life heart attacks. They are also at risk for mental health problems such as clinical depression and anxiety. To protect children, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington have passed laws known as Primary Caretaker laws. These laws allow judges flexibility to give community-based sentences to parents who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes.
To prevent poor health outcomes in children, Missouri Appleseed advocated for a Primary Caretaker law in Missouri. With community sentences, parents can continue to provide and care for their children.