Time for change: Jazree's story of parental incarceration

Brave New Films has created several short films exploring the impact of parental incarceration on children. In Jazree's Court: Growing Up With an Incarcerated Father, we meet Jazree who shares her experience of growing up without her dad. She shares some of her challenges, especially that of coming out. The film also shows the reunification between Jazree and her dad, and we can see an incredible bound of love, compassion and tenderness between them. Yet it is quite clear that the absence of her father made coming out among other trying times very daunting for Jazree.

The question remains: Are there alternatives to incarceration available in the US, which can honor family integrity for youth like Jazree? I believe there are opportunities for improvement.  We need not go to Mars to find solutions to this growing North American malaise – parental incarceration. In Australia, courts are already hearing and considering the impact of parental incarceration on children, and are afforded discretion with respect to sentencing a parent. An example of a legislative scheme in Australia can be found at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca191482/s16a.html

In 2007, the Constitutional Court of South Africa established that the best interest of the child must be considered when sentencing a parent.  http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZACC/2007/18.pdf

We would like to know when the federal and state governments plan to honor family integrity of all children and integrate the following four principles as guidance for sentencing reform affecting parents:

1. At the pre-sentencing hearing of an individual convicted of an offense, the Court should be required to ask whether the person is a parent;

2. If the individual is a parent, the court should be required to hear and consider what the impact of incarcerating the parent will be on their children through the means of a Family Impact Statement;

3. After assessing all the facts before him or her, a sentencing judge should be encouraged to exercise sound judicial discretion with respect to sentencing a parent to an alternative to a prison term, which is likely to promote family integrity (i.e. probation, education or job training programs, housing support, health, social, and psychotherapeutic supports, and medical supports including drug treatment); and

4. When considering legislative proposals that will affect sentencing and correctional policy, lawmakers must be given estimates of the impacts on the children of individuals directly affected.


Patricia Allard


Thank you. Unfortunately, only a couple of jurisdictions are considering the impact of parental incarceration on children. Please see today's Father's Dad post.We'd like to hear your feedback.

nice one

nice one

Terrific that courts are being forced to acknowledge that impacts of prison are experienced by many ppl in addition to the person being sentenced. The impacts on children are absolutely crucial to recognize and consider in sentencing.

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Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People's Movement Western Regional Conference

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Formerly incarcerated and convicted people, family members, community and spiritual leaders, elected officials and government employees will all come together to strengthen our relationships and work towards making change through community empowerment. We invite you to Voice your opinion, learn your rights and learn what changes we can make together. All of Us or None Contact: (415)-255-7036 ext. 337 www.prisonerswithchildren.org

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