Children

JS Blog Post September 20, 2017

Youth Incarceration Numbers are Down But Racial Disparities are Up--A New Fact Sheet from The Sentencing Project

Lill M. Hewko

Last week The Sentencing Project released its first of three fact sheets on racial and ethnic disparities in youth incarceration. State by state analysis shows that despite long-term declines in youth incarceration overall, racial disparities continue to grow. Read more »

JS Blog Post September 5, 2017

Sentenced to Lose: A message from a Young Incarcerated Father

Lill M. Hewko and Daniel Loera

This blog is part of a series documenting fatherhood and incarceration via Daniel Loera’s story. In many ways Daniel’s story can be seen as a success story of our juvenile justice system’s ability to support our youth. But, unfortunately his story doesn’t end with his success in overcoming mental health challenges, his own relationship to his trauma, or his ability to establish a relationship with his daughter from prison. In addition to success, he has experienced the injustice of harsh juvenile sentencing and the inability of alternative sentencing and/or clemency to provide him and his family a “safety valve” out of prison. Now he has received the ultimate punishment: the termination of his rights to his daughter.

JS Blog Post August 8, 2017

Alternative Solutions: Washington Parental Alternative Sentencing Program Highlights

Lillian M. Hewko

Washington State has been the leader in the creation of an alternative sentencing program that supports families. The numbers available in their most recent “Fact Sheet” (available here) show why need to keep moving in this direction. Not only are a majority of parents successful in the program, many children are able to avoid being placed in foster care and unncessary separation. Read more »

JS Blog Post June 14, 2017

How Can Schools, Teachers, and Counselors Help Children Impacted by Incarceration?

By Megan Sullivan

School’s out. This means teachers, counselors and administrators are beginning the process of reflecting upon what they might do differently next year. One thing they might consider is how they can more adequately address the needs of the 2.7 million minor children who currently have a parent in prison or jail in the United States.

This is the second blog in a three-part series on how we can assist children. In last month's blog I suggested that although the number of adults who are incarcerated and the number of children impacted by incarceration may tell us some things, these numbers cannot convey the entire story as numbers do not reflect the unique and individualized ways in which incarceration impacts any given family. Our approach as advocates and researchers has often created missed connections and opportunities to truly know more of the story. The same could be said about the relationship between children who have parents in prison or jail and the K-12 institutions and staff who serve them. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 12, 2017

National Mama’s Bail Out Day: Taking a Stance & Reuniting Families Torn Apart by the Criminal Justice System.

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

What is the best way to maintain contact between children and their incarcerated parents? To get them out of jail in the first place! As reported by the Huffington post, this week just before Mother’s Day the Black Lives Matter Movement created “National Mama’s Bail Out Day” to give mothers (queer, trans, immigrant, young, elder and disabled) the greatest give of all—the gift of being with their children instead of being held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.

Each day the cost of bail is devastating for parents (of all genders), families, and communities across our nation. In California alone, it is estimated that over 60% of individuals are held on pretrial bail—meaning they haven’t been convicted of a crime, they just can’t afford bail. A recent report by Justice Policy Institute found that bail bond companies take billions from low-income people with no return on investment in terms of public safety, and instead, create added costs to communities. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 10, 2017

Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States: What We Know and What We Still Need to Learn

Megan Sullivan

By: Megan Sullivan*

This is the first of a three-part series on children of incarcerated parents. My thanks to Justice Strategies for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this series.

I come to the topic of children with incarcerated parents from several vantage points. First, I was ten years old when my father was arrested and received a two-to-five-year sentence for larceny. I know firsthand that while the relationship between a parent’s incarceration and a child’s outcomes is not obvious or proscriptive, there are important reasons to pay attention to this relationship. Read more »

JS Blog Post April 7, 2017

“An Unlikely Partnership”: A New Film Fostering the Possibilities of Alternatives to Incarceration for Parents

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

I got arrested 5 days before my kid’s 6th birthday, they’re 9 years old now...I was just so low. Not being able to see my kids. Having to call on the phone. Having to ask, is this Brianna or is this Michaela. There shouldn’t ever be a point in my life where I don’t know whose voice I’m hearing.”

These are the words of a formerly incarcerated mother from in a recent film “An Unlikely Partnership: Strengthening Families Touched By Incarceration.” These words exhibit the reality that although the time spent parenting from the inside is invaluable, the pain of being separated and not being able to parent on a consistent basis is heartbreaking. Fortunately, in this mother’s case she was able to get early release to be with her twins at about 12 months under the Family Offender Sentencing Alternative’s (FOSA) Community Parenting Alternative (Early Release) in Washington State. Read more »

JS Blog Post March 28, 2017

Grasping at the Root: A young father's path to incarceration.

Lillian M. Hewko

This is the first in a series of blog posts on fatherhood* and incarceration by Justice Strategies featuring Daniel Loera, a 21-year-old father of a 4-year-old daughter, currently serving time at Monroe Correctional Facility in Washington State. Daniel is navigating both the prison and child welfare systems in an attempt to maintain his parental rights.

Daniel was 16 when he committed the crime of assault. Along with a cousin, and under the influence of drugs, he followed two strangers outside of a Walmart to rob them. Daniel beat the young man he had followed with the butt of a gun and then fled the scene in his cousin’s car, only to be picked up two blocks away and then identified in a lineup. He was automatically charged as an adult, sentenced to 7.75 years of prison and 3 years of community custody.

When I sit across from Daniel, I can hardly imagine the young man described in the police report. When asked about his young self, Daniel says: Read more »

JS Blog Post February 27, 2017

Damaging Impact of Parental Incarceration in Louisiana

Patricia Allard

The Times-Picayune's multi-part series on the impact of parental incarceration on children shines the light on the experiences of children  and their families as the navigate to choppy waters of the Louisiana correctional system. While the series focuses on Louisiana, millions of children across the nation live through very similar experiences. It's time to protect children's right to family. 

Family Sentence

News Article Huffington Post December 22, 2016

‘Tis The Season For Miracles: Eight-Year-Old Darina Tries To Get Her Incarcerated Dad Closer To Home

This article, by Patricia Allard, of Justice Strategies, and Lillan Hewko, Attorney & Co-founder of the Incarcerated Parents Project of the Washington Defender Association, and equally moving embedded video by Silicon Valley De-Bug, relates the story of Darina, an eight year old whose wish is to have her incarcerated father moved to a federal facility nearer her home so that she could "just drive" to see him.  In three years Darina has been able to make the 2,000 mile journey to see her father in Texas only once.  In this season of compassion and caring for others, we are reminded by Darina's story that our criminal justice system should and can do better to ensure that, yes, justice is done but in a manner that takes into account the burdens placed on the children and families of the incarcerated, and preserves parent-child bonds important for successful re-entry back into family and community life. 

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