The Adoption and Safe Family Act (ASFA)

JS Blog Post September 5, 2017

Sentenced to Lose: A message from a Young Incarcerated Father

Lill M. Hewko and Daniel Loera

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JS Blog Post May 26, 2017

A Local Response to the White House: Denver Passes Jail Sentencing Reform & Aims to Help Immigrants, Families and Our Communities

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

Just this week, on May 22nd Denver City Council approved a comprehensive bill that reforms sentencing ranges for low level infractions and in doing so will protect immigrants from deportation. As many people sentenced to jail-time are parents, such changes will largely affect children of incarcerated parents by mitigating the negative emotional and behavioral outcomes caused by separation. The changes can also help avoid unnecessary separation and termination of parental rights for those involved in the child welfare system or in family law custody cases. In 2009 alone, more than 14,000 children entered foster care due at least partly due to the incarceration of a parent

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s office proposed the ordinance and stated: 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 July 16, 2015

Let Our Families Have a Future: A mother's story #2

Theresa Martinez

In this video, Theresa discusses the impact that familial seperartion has had on her daughter's well-being. Theresa's incarceration resulted in years of seperation from her daughter who was forced to live a challenging existence in the foster care system. Theresa also discusses how children of color in foster care - who miss their parents so much - are over-medicated in an effort to make them more manageable. Please view Theresa's second blog post

 

 

 

JS Blog Post June 30, 2015

Let Our Families Have a Future: A mother's story #1

Theresa Martinez
In this, the first of a four part video series, Theresa Martinez of Justice Now relates the story of her twenty-three years of incarceration in both youth and adult facilities, and her separation from her daughter. Listen in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPehSdIt9Tw
JS Blog Post January 6, 2015

Hewing a Stone of Hope Out of a Mountain of Despair: The Children of Incarcerated Parents’ Bill of Rights

Gail Smith

“The children of prisoners are guaranteed nothing. They have committed no crime, but the penalty they are required to pay is steep. They forfeit, too often, much of what matters to them: their homes, their safety, their public status and private self-image, their primary source of comfort and affection. Their lives and prospects are profoundly affected by the multiple institutions that lay claim to their parents—police, courts, jails and prisons, probation and parole—but they have no rights, explicit or implicit, within any of these jurisdictions.” – San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership

An estimated 2.7 million children nationwide are left behind by having at least one parent in jail or prison. In 2003, the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (SFCIPP) developed a Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents, based on the experiences of children. Nell Bernstein, with her groundbreaking book, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated, helped to launch this initiative. In 2005 they deepened the blueprint by launching the Rights to Realities Initiative, outlining steps toward implementation.  In case you are not familiar with them, here are the eight rights: Read more »

JS Blog Post December 10, 2014

Hill Briefing on Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States -Wednesday, September 3 from 11-12:30pm in RM 2253 Rayburn Building

Patricia Allard

We're please to bring you a series of 5 video-blog posts from a Hill Briefing - Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States - held in the fall of 2014. The briefing was designed to explore how the family integrity needs of children can be addressed at their parent's sentencing hearing. In this post Pamela Clifton, Communications Coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, discusses the damaged the criminal justice system brought in her life and the lives of her children, and how her situation and that of many others could be better addressed without the use of prison terms.

JS Blog Post October 21, 2014

A Child’s Voice: Her Own Words

Ashleigh Clifton

Ashleigh's mom arrested on a drug charge and was sent to prison while Ashleigh was at school. At the time of writing her story for the Colorado Justice Report, Ashleigh was15:

I was sitting in my 2nd grade music class when the school principle showed up in the doorway to take me out of class. As I got up to leave, my friends did the whole "ooh, you're going to get in trouble", type of thing that normal 2nd graders do. I remember turning to them and telling them to "shut-up", but if I knew it was the last time I would see any of them, I probably would have said something more intelligent. As I walked down the hallway to her office, the principle kept saying things like "never give up, no matter what" and "you can do anything you set your mind to". I just kind of looked at her and nodded my head every once in awhile. Waiting in the principal's office was a Larimer County social worker. When we came into the office, she stood up and simply said, "Hi Ashleigh, I am here to take you across town to pick up your brother and then we're going to go for a little ride." Just like that my whole life changed into something from a scary movie. Only now, I couldn't push the "STOP" or "PAUSE" button. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 28, 2014

Children of Incarcerated Parents and Psychotropic Medications

Stephanie Franklin, Esq.

Drugging foster children with mind-altering drugs called psychotropics, is a common practice.  It has gotten so outrageous in the last 10 years that it has garnered national media coverage and the U.S. government’s attention.  Because of this, the government has held congressional hearings, hosted conferences and convenings, and enacted legislation to remedy the issue.  Grassroots advocates, activists, parents, and foster parents saw this widespread increase in the use of psychotropic medication on foster children and pushed for the government to deal with this issue. Working on the ground, with people, directly, is powerful!  It keeps you connected to the people that matter and focused on conquering and eliminating injustices that permeate the lives of marginalized populations.  I bring this issue to your attention because it highlights and underscores the vulnerability that children of incarcerated parents face – trauma and possible, over-medication of psychotropic drugs. Read more »

JS Blog Post July 23, 2014

That Morning Was Like Any Other Morning

Davian Reynolds

That morning was like any other morning. I awoke to the tattering of about one hundred cheerios filling a ceramic bowl, as my foster mother prepared my Barney sealed lunch box. I knew that it would be only minutes before I was called downstairs to eat my breakfast and get ready for school, but that morning I remember hearing something different. The echo of the doorbell lasted just about the time it took for hurried footsteps to reach the top of the carpeted staircase. The footsteps stopped in front of my door. “Davi,” whispered my foster mother. I was then asked to hide in a rather spacious closet in my foster mother’s bedroom. A new game, I presumed, given that I was never allowed to play in her closet before. What seemed like an hour passed by, and I remember thinking whoever was looking for me must have been really bad at “hide and go seek”. Finally, the door opened. My foster mother took my hand and guided me down the stairs. There, stood two people, a woman and a man, in all black suits. My hand was placed in an unfamiliar woman’s hand and she brought me outside to a black car. Read more »

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