Sesame Street Made a Video, But It's Not Cute and It's Not Funny

Upworthy created a powerful video that presents the documentary initiative produced by youth of incarcerated parents, Echoes of Incarceration http://www.echoesofincarceration.org/Home.html.

This is a four-minute Facebook page video, which succinctly shares the experiences of youth dealing with parental incarceration. The missing piece in the video is a discussion about the futility of incarcerating parents in the first place. We agree that child friendly centers within prisons are essential for those having to serve a prison-term. However, it is time for all of us to assess whether so many parents nationwide need to be incarcerated in the first place. The current trend in criminal justice reform is to decarcerate (i.e. drug courts); this is emerging from both republicans and democrats. The impact of parental incarceration on family integrity must be assessed by policy makers and the judiciary. Family impact statements can provide district attorneys and judges the necessary information about the possible impact on children/youth of parental incarceration, offering decision-makers complete disclosure of the consequences of their actions. With a fuller picture of the impact of parental incarceration, sensible prosecutorial/judicial discretion can be exercised.  South Africa and Australia already assess the best interest of the child with respect to parental incarceration. These countries, among several others, have taken upon themselves to find alternatives to incarcerating parents.  Public safety need not be undermined by decarcerating parents. The truth of the matter is that honoring family integrity for all can increase public safety.

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Patricia Allard

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Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People's Movement Western Regional Conference

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