A staggering 10 percent of all children in America have a parent who is incarcerated or under the supervision of the criminal justice system. Thus more than seven million kids face the social stigma, the developmental problems and the greater risk of getting into trouble themselves.
This special one-hour documentary, “Children Left Behind,” examines the challenges and the futures of these kids. In the first segment, we hear the personal stories of Chesa Boudin and Emani Davis—two bright, articulate young people who at an early age experienced the long-term imprisonment of a parent. What’s it like for a child to visit a parent in an unfriendly prison building? What emotional obstacles must these kids undergo? Can a meaningful relationship be maintained between child and incarcerated parent?
In the second segment, we learn about current efforts to reach out to and support this vulnerable population. We hear former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, himself the child of a prisoner, who heads a mentoring program for these kids. We visit a California school that has incorporated a program to counsel children of prisoners and to show them many options in life. We talk with a grandmother who is raising her grandchildren while the mother is locked up. And we attend a parenting class for recently released inmates who must now try to heal broken family relationships.
In 2019, Chesa Boudin (a graduate of Yale Law School, who went on to become a leading advocate for criminal justice reform) was elected District Attorney of San Francisco, CA, where his term in office was stormy. On June 7, 2022, Boudin was recalled from office by 55% of voters.
The children are not the ones who committed the crimes. It’s their parents who committed the crimes. So we’ve harmed indirectly a whole generation of children who are now having difficulties growing up, difficulties coping.”
—Jeremy Travis, former Director, National Institute of Justice