What Growing Up With an Incarcerated Father Taught Me About the Drug War

Growing up with an incarcerated parent can be tough. The feelings of isolation and stigma that I and others like me experienced growing up were a tough burden to bear.

My father immigrated to the United States from Jamaica in the 1970s. I was four years old when my dad went away, and my younger brother was two years old. My father was convicted for trafficking in cocaine and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

At the beginning of his absence, we maintained contact through letters, although I was not aware of where he was. Every time I wrote my father, I’d carefully write his department identification number, thinking that it was a code for an apartment complex mailbox, until my mom informed me that my dad was in prison.

I began to cry, but even then I remember questioning my tears: what does it mean to be in prison? For any parent, breaking the news to a child that their father is in prison is difficult. At that age, I didn’t know what it meant; I just knew I wouldn’t be seeing any more of my dad.

My father left my mom alone to raise seven children, which added a financial strain to the emotional distress. Upon his early release, he was deported back to Jamaica where he lives today.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.