There is a good chance that an individual in Pennsylvania has a direct member of the family who has been sent to prison or jail. According to a study by Cornell University in New York, 45 percent of Americans have a parent, grandparent or sibling who is or was incarcerated. Children and spouses also counted as direct family ties for the purposes of the study.

African-Americans and individuals with a low level of education were even more likely to know someone who had been to jail or prison. However, even 15 percent of white individuals who had a college degree knew someone who had been incarcerated. Furthermore, the study found that 55 percent of African-Americans with a college degree knew someone who had been behind bars. The researchers said that these figures show that incarceration is a problem that can impact people regardless of their race or level of education.

It was also noted that individuals who had to take care of households while a family member was away were also victims of mass incarceration in the United States. Among the respondents, a sibling was the most common member of the family to be in prison or jail. Researchers obtained their data from 4,000 respondents across the country, and it was published in Socius.

A criminal defense attorney may help those who have been charged with a crime. This may be true whether the offense is considered to be a misdemeanor or a felony. Legal counsel may defend a person throughout the case, including during any appeals that occur after a verdict has been rendered. During the appeal process, a lawyer may point out mistakes made by the prosecution, judge or jury. Errors may also be pointed out before or during a trial in an effort to get a case dismissed.