'Sesame Street' has new Muppet with parent in prison

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comJune 17, 2013 

Maybe things have changed since you last watched "Sesame Street."

The children’s show now has a Muppet with an incarcerated parent, according to a recent "Today" show report. He won’t be part of the regular cast on "Sesame Street," but he’ll play a major role in an online toolkit geared toward children with a parent in prison, the report explains.

It adds, "Meet Alex, the first Muppet to have a dad in jail. One in 28 children in the United States now has a parent behind bars -- more than the number of kids with a parent who is deployed -- so it’s a real issue, but it’s talked about far less because of the stigma."

What's your reaction to the news?

I agree with Slate's assessment: "'Sesame Street' isn't the problem, but hopefully the very existence of this video and online toolkit can help wake people up to the way that excessive incarceration is destroying families and hurting the most vulnerable children."

In addition, a Viewpoint piece from Time magazine suggests the existence of the "Sesame Street" initiative highlights a deeper issue: incarceration's far-reaching impact on families.

It emphasizes: "As usual, Sesame Street’s brochures and programming are well-designed and sensitive to the issues they address...But maybe, while we provide these band-aids for now, what we really need is a rethink of our entire criminal justice system, one that has become not only the nation’s biggest holding cell for people with addictions, but also its largest psychiatric system— albeit one that only rarely provides evidence-based treatment for either addictions or other mental illnesses."

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