Sesame Street's new muppet: Facts you may not know about parents in jail

Sesame Street jail: The newest muppet, Alex, is representative of a growing problem — 1 in 28 children in the US have a parent locked up. Here's a list of facts you may not know about parents in jail.

  • close
    Sesame Street's new muppet, Alex, seen here, represents 1 in 28 children with a parent in jail.
    Screenshot from
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

Sesame Street's newest muppet, Alex, has a dad who is in jail. Alex represents a population of children whose parent or parents are currently incarcerated. Here's a list of facts you may not know about parents in jail. 

One in 28 children in the United States have a parent who is in jail. A quarter of a century ago, that number was only 1 in 125.

The number of children with a parent in jail changes significantly based on the race of the child. One in nine African-American children have a parent in jail while 1 in 58 white children have an incarcerated parent. 

Recommended: Illinois jail inmates graduate from fatherhood class

Of all the inmates in the US, 54 percent are parents with children 17-years-old and younger. Fathers are more likely to be behind bars than mothers — 1.1 million in jail compared to 120,000. 

Of the children with a father in jail, 23 percent received a suspension or expulsion from school compared to only 4 percent of their peers without an incarcerated father. 

Between 1991 and 2007, the number of parents in jail increased almost 80 percent. The number of children with a mother in jail doubled in that same period. 

About half of parents incarcerated have children under the age of 9. 

Facts from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Pew Charitable Trust.


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.