The lede here is the striking insight of the story. We don't know with any certainty how strongly genetic influences are on a person's propensity to commit crime, but we do know that criminal conduct that results in criminal justice consequences tends to run in families. This is a fact that needs to be prominent in the awareness of anyone trying to reform the criminal justice system.
Since that day in 2011, Cintron Jr., 38, has lived on the same cell block as his father, who is 58. Recently, the cell next door to his dad’s became available, so he moved in. Each evening, by 9 p.m., they lock themselves into cells 86 and 87 of A Block for the night.
Their story is, in some ways, not an unusual one. All around them are inmates who come from the same neighborhoods, the same city blocks or even the same households. Father and son hail from one of the most heavily incarcerated communities in one of the most incarcerated cities in the country. And just as crime gravitates to certain neighborhoods, it also clusters in families: According to one criminologist’s analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 5 percent of families account for more than 50 percent of all arrests.
Numerous studies have found that individuals whose parents have committed crimes are at least two times more likely to be perpetrators themselves. Sexual offending runs in families. So does violent crime. . . .
Darryl Goodman, who was locked up with his own father at Graterford before dedicating his life to helping at-risk young people, has been piecing together a data set with help from inmates at the 25 prisons around the state. By his most recent reckoning, (and it’s hard to keep up, as inmates constantly are being moved) there were 243 fathers in state prisons with their sons. At Graterford alone, he counted 41 father-son pairs, including 17 sets of cellmates. He found seven families in which a father, son and grandson were all locked up together.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer (emphasis mine).Cintron Jr. finds those numbers plausible: “On the block right now, there are probably three or four sets of brothers. And there are fathers and sons on my block. Just on the block alone, there are families, cousins. There is nothing for it. It’s the cycle. It’s the generational curse.”