Federal report: 1.5 million children have at least one parent in prison
Nearly 1.5 million American children have a mother or father in federal or state prison a figure that has grown in step with the swelling of the nation's prison population, the Justice Department reported Wednesday.
The department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said that at the end of last year 1,498,800 children under age 18 had a parent in prison in this country.
That was a 60 percent increase since 1991 up 562,300 from the 936,500 children in that category then. During the same interval, the nation's prison population grew by an almost identical 62 percent, to 1,284,894 prisoners in 1999.
The 1999 prison population contained 721,500 inmates who were parents of a minor child. The percentage of prisoners with children was essentially unchanged 57 percent in 1991 and 56 percent in 1999.
A majority of the children with imprisoned parents, 58 percent, was younger than 10 years old, and the average age was 8 years old. As of Dec. 31, 1999, they represented 2.1 percent of the nation's 72 million minor children.
FBI cracks identity theft ring
Underscoring concerns about the nation's fastest growing type of crime, the FBI arrested two people Wednesday and sought a third in what they described as an "identity theft" ring that used other people's names to steal more than $700,000.
Federal authorities said that the three, using a host of aliases and addresses, masterminded the second-largest identity-theft ring ever uncovered in the United States.
As agents made the arrests, federal and local authorities were across town, testifying at a congressional hearing on the subject of identity theft. They promised to do much more to combat it, both with legislation and increased law enforcement.
Each of the three accused faces 15 years in federal prison if convicted.
Portland, Ore., INS scolded
The Immigration and Naturalization Service promised Wednesday to put a stop to what officials acknowledged is the far too frequent mistreatment of legitimate travelers from Asia who attempt to enter the United States through Portland International Airport in Oregon.
INS Commissioner Doris Meissner ordered a thorough investigation of practices at the airport one day after Oregon's senators, Republican Gordon Smith and Democrat Ron Wyden, complained that foreign travelers were losing confidence in Portland as a port of entry because of persistent abuse, an INS spokeswoman said.
In Portland, she said, INS officials seem to be far more suspicious of overseas travelers than officials in other airports along the Pacific Coast.
"Portland only gets two international flights a day, as compared to Los Angeles, which has dozens," she said. "This gives more time to put people through inspections. This has led to the perception that Portland does things by the book."
In their letter, Smith and Wyden said the problems were prompting Delta Airlines, the only carrier linking Portland to Asia, to consider suspending its international flights into the airport, which is often referred to as "de-Portland" throughout Asia.