imprisonment rate communities.”79
These patterns of intensive punishment do little to reduce community-level stress
loads over time.80 Rather than providing opportunities for healing or support,
incarceration magnifies the intertwined challenges of weak social capital, barren
opportunity landscapes, and disrupted human development pathways.81 Moreover, as
demonstrated, concentrated incarceration poses significant barriers to the rights of the
child, as the removal of each generation’s parents reduces the available role models and
support systems for children and youth growing up in high crime areas.82 In the case of
parental incarceration, the criminal justice response often intensifies household stress
levels, though the effects on the family vary significantly from case to case.83 In contrast
to such an exclusively punitive approach, to ensure the rights of the child it is necessary
to build a more robust public safety system that can address the underlying parental and
household stressors that frequently undermine parents’ ability to keep their children safe.
Moving forward, the authors assert that we must build a public safety system that
proactively works to reduce poverty and to disrupt the cyclical nature of trauma and
violence to recognize the rights of the child.
IV. INTERVENING AT THE POPULATION LEVEL
One key question for practitioners and policymakers seeking to proactively reduce
levels of urban violence is “How do we effectively change the neighborhood context in
which violence occurs?” Addressing cumulative disadvantage can at times be an
overwhelming task, but policymakers, researchers, and practitioners in the field of
violence prevention are making significant advances in creating responses to the toxic
stress levels that result from the dual challenge of poverty and trauma.84 This Part
79 Wakefield & Wildeman, supra note 75, at 796; Joseph Murray & David P. Farrington, The Effects of
Parental Imprisonment on Children, 37 CRIME & JUST.: A REV. OF RES. 133, 165, 174 (2008).
80 See generally NAT’L ASS’N FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, MISPLACED PRIORITIES: OVER
INCARCERATE, UNDER EDUCATE (2011) [hereinafter MISPLACED PRIORITIES] (discussing how over-incarceration impacts communities, specifically by reducing educational opportunities and incarcerating
individuals with treatable mental illness).
81 See, e.g.,Bruce Western et al.,Incarceration and Bonds Between Parents in Fragile
Families, in IMPRISONING AMERICA: THE SOCIAL EFFECTS OF MASS INCARCERATION 41 (Mary Patillo et al.
eds., 2006) (discussing how incarceration “exacerbates behavioral problems, limits educational
opportunities, and raises the risks of unemployment”); INVISIBLE PUNISHMENT: THE COLLATERAL
CONSEQUENCES OF MASS INCARCERATION 27 (Meda Chesney-Lind & Marc Mauer eds. 2003).
82 See DONALD BRAMAN, DOING TIME ON THE OUTSIDE: INCARCERATION AND FAMILY LIFE IN URBAN
AMERICA 89–96 (2004).
83 See, e.g., JEREMY TRAVIS & MICHELLE WAUL, PRISONERS ONCE REMOVED: THE IMPACT OF
INCARCERATION AND REENTRY ON CHILDREN, FAMILIES, AND COMMUNITIES 22–25 (2004) (discussing the
“host of challenges” prisoners face upon release from prison and reentry back to their families, including
reestablishing relationships and finding stable housing).
84 According to Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, toxic stress is inclusive of the types of stress
that result from both prolonged economic hardship and specific traumatic events. Toxic stress arises when