Children

JS Blog Post May 31, 2016

Does anyone prioritize the needs of our children?

Patricia Allard

In 2012, the Quaker United Nations Office published Collateral Convicts: Children of incarcerated parents. This report emerged from a day of general discussion convened in 2011 by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee compiled recommendations and good practices from various countries in the hopes that other governmental stakeholders could see and learn from other jurisdictions that have found a way to prioritize the needs of children whose parents become entangled in the criminal justice system.

While United States continues to be the last holdout of all nations to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child – just a couple years ago the United States and Somalia were the only two states that had not ratified the Convention. That the US government is dragging its feet when it comes to the needs of one of our most cherished national treasures – our children – is frightening, but it does not necessarily come as a surprise given the number of other social values that get thrown under the bus, i.e. health care, education, housing. Read more »

News Article Albuquerque Journal May 14, 2016

Immigration offenders jam federal court in NM

Executive Directors Judy Greene, of Justice Strategies, and Bob Libal, of Grassroots Leadership, offer insights into federal court felony prosecution of immigrants for illegal entry and re-entry in New Mexico in the attached Alququerque Journal article. The number of people apprehended for crossing the border illegally has fallen eighty percent in fifteen years.  However, though fewer people illegally cross the border today, those who are apprehended are more likely to be prosecuted and jailed.  Illegal entry and re-entry prosecutions, especially along the border, have skyrocketed in the last twenty years.  From 2011 to 2015 alone, immigration cases in the New Mexico's federal courts have increased by eighty percent.  New Mexico charges nearly one hundred percent of re-entry cases as felonies, and does not allow defendants to plea down to a lesser charge. 

Recent studies suggest that immigrants who have children or relatives in the U.S. are unlikely to be dissuaded by repeated apprehensions, jail time or deportation.  A 2015 study of eighteen thousand illegal re-entry cases by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that half of offenders had at least one child living in the United States at the time of their apprehension.  More than two-thirds had relatives other than children in the U.S. Read more »

JS Blog Post April 20, 2016

Breaking the Cycle: A Family-focused Approach to Criminal Sentencing in Illinios

Lauren Feig

 

Breaking the Cycle: A Family-focused Approach to Criminal Sentencing in Illinios

Abstract 

The collateral damage of parental incarceration to children is a hidden cost of current punitive criminal sentencing policies that overlook the needs of children and impose barriers to maintaining strong parent-child bonds. This paper presents a familyfocused approach to criminal sentencing, which aims to promote better outcomes for offenders and their children by aligning sentencing decisions to the severity of the crime committed, the risks and strengths of the offender, and the offender’s family context. It will address existing gaps in federal and state sentencing guidelines and provide policy and practice recommendations to help advance family-focused sentencing in Illinois. 

JS Blog Post March 9, 2016

Make it Quick: The Kids Only Have 24 Hours with Dad

Patricia Allard

Nightline’s Face to Face with Juju Chang presents "One Day with God" -  a prison program that runs in seven states. Fathers have 24 hours to build memories with their children in the prison gymnasium. One father teaches the importance of cursive writing to his son, while another has an intimate moment dancing with his daughter. Chang summarized this precious day as follows: “Throughout the day, it’s clear that the dads are trying to cram years of parenting into a couple of hours.”

In-prison and re-entry programs are critical in maintaining healthy connections between fathers and children. However, we do have the opportunity to further limit the damage visited on children when their parents face a possible prison term. We talk about the best interest of the child but when we consider severing the parent-child bond when a father faces a prison term, we fail to take an inquisitive look at the impact a prison term will have on the family unit, especially children. Read more »

JS Blog Post February 27, 2016

United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Speaks to the Best Interests of Children of Incarcerated Parents

Patricia Allard

On Thursday, January 21st, 2016, the US Human Rights Network and the Franklin Law Group, P.C. convened a Civil Society Roundtable with the members of the UN Working Group of Experts on People     of African Descent          (UN WGEPAD) during their first official visit to the United States. This convening provided the opportunity for civil society to spotlight persistent issues of racial        discrimination in the United States,    and engage the Working Group on policy recommendations, and   lift up best practices for   replication at the state, national and international levels.   Read more »

JS Blog Post February 23, 2016

Washington Update

Patricia Allard

On January 15, 2016, the Washington State House on Early learning & Human Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Ruth Kagi, held a work session that focused on three distinct issues: (1) Prevocational Services Report, (2) Children of Incarcerated Parents, (3) Executive Session: 2SHB 1999, HB 2323.

The segment of the January 15th work session that addresses the issue of children of incarcerated parents starts at 31.21 minutes.  

http://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2016010089

In brief, during this segment you’ll hear from five speakers addressing the needs and concerns of children who have incarcerated parents. This work session provides important information about developments the state has sought out to address the needs of families entangled with the criminal justice system and child welfare services. Read more »

JS Blog Post December 2, 2015

Incarceration Generation: Families Left Behind

Lisa Ling

In “Incarceration Generation: Families Left Behind , brought to viewers by Lisa Ling’s Our America  and sponsored by OWN, we get an up close and personal picture of the impact on families of incarcerating Black fathers in America.

JS Blog Post November 2, 2015

Sentencing Parents, Sentencing Children: Trick or Treat Halloween Without Mom or Dad

Patricia Allard

“Trick or treat” are the cherished words I like to hear every year at Halloween when I open my door. Batman, Cinderella and the witch are yearly visitors, and I am always prepared with my small but tasty, chocolate treats. Many older children come knocking for their Halloween treats while their mom or dad, in some cases both parents – mom and dad, dad and dad or mom and mom – patiently wait by the curb with a watchful eye. This year a little one came to my door in her daddy’s arms, experiencing this Western tradition for the first time.  Dad urged her to utter those cherished words. The sweet girl in her cat costume shyly said in a practically indiscernible voice, “Trick or Treat”.  Her dad proudly flashed a beaming smile while the little girl lite up as I deposited M&M chocolates in her orange, plastic pumpkin container.  Watching them leave my porch, I was struck by the thought that this Halloween over 2.7 million American children were not being accompanied by their mother or father due to the cruel separation that is enforced by parental incarceration. Read more »

JS Blog Post September 30, 2015

Family Sentencing Alternatives: Oregon's New Pilot Program

Patricia Allard

Oregon is the latest state to consider the possibility of diverting parents of minor children away from prison to enable them to serve their sentence in the community under supervision. On August 12, 2015, the Oregon Governor signed into law Chapter 830 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, which gave life to the Family Sentencing Alternative Pilot Program (FSAPP).  The FSAPP has particular eligibility criteria, including that

 

  1. The person is likely to be sentenced to a prison term in the legal and physical custody of the Department of Corrections for at least one year;

 

  1. The person “has not previously been convicted of and is not currently being sentenced for:”

 

  1. A sex crime;
  2. Certain felony offenses (i.e. violent offenses) requiring a determinate sentence or a mandatory sentence; offences involving unlawful delivery of  controlled substances, including specifically to minors; or offenses involving driving while under the influence of intoxicants; and

  Read more »

JS Blog Post September 11, 2015

Equal Protection for Incarcerated Fathers Ordered in California

Nestor Rios

In an important victory for incarcerated fathers in California, Judge Morrison C. England, of the US District Court, ruled on Sep. 9th that “California’s decision to open an alternative custody program to female inmates only and to permit them to apply for release up to two years prior to their earliest possible release date violates the Equal Protection Clause of Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Judge England also ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to into immediately cease denying admission the ACP program on the basis that an applicant is male. Read more »

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