Sentencing Policy

JS Blog Post November 23, 2018

Save your Black Friday Spending to Instead Support Children of Incarcerated Parents for #Giving Tuesday

Riley Hewko, Esq.

Every year, on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving #GivingTuesday provides individuals an alternative to spending their money on “Black Friday.” This year consider staying away from companies that support the prison industry and instead donate to organizations helping children of incarcerated parents. The U.S has approximately 7 million people in prison, jail, probation or parole, 100,000 in juvenile detention, 478,000 in immigration detention.

JS Blog Post November 12, 2018

Veterans Day Focus: Incarcerated Veteran Parents

Riley Hewko, Esq.

On this Veteran’s Day 2018, as we honor our military veterans, it seemed appropriate to look at resources for incarcerated veterans who may have left children behind as they serve their sentences. Given the criminalization of living with addiction, mental health, and disabilities, former members of the US military often find themselves in trouble with the law. A study by RAND institute found that almost a third of people who survived combat in wars since 9/11 suffer from “invisible wounds,” such as a mental health condition or traumatic brain injury (TBI). This concern has led to the development of veteran’s courts, with the one criticism being that they are misapplied justice, as all people entering the justice system should receive similar support. A second criticism is that they are not provided to veterans who have committed violent or sexual assault crimes.

JS Blog Post October 27, 2018

The Family First Prevention Services Act Offers Support for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Riley Hewko, Esq.

Last spring, groundbreaking legislation, The Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”), was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act allowing states to use federal funding to help keep families together and avoid out of home foster care placement entirely. Specifically, the legislation changes the way that Title IV-E funds can be spent by states by allowing funds to be used for prevention services that help keep kids at home or with their relatives. Prevention services include for example, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services, in-home skill-based parenting programs, foster care maintenance payments for children with parents in residential family-based substance abuse treatment facilities, and payments for kinship navigator programs.

JS Blog Post October 5, 2018

Study Update: Recent Study Shows Negative Public Health Impacts for Children with Histories of Parental Incarceration and Need for Decarceration Strategies

Riley Hewko, Esq.

A recent study confirms that incarceration is one of the major public health challenges of our time, not only for the people experiencing incarceration, but for children left behind. The study by Nia Heard-Garris MD et al, “Health Care Use and Health Behaviors Among Young Adults with History of Parental Incarceration,” found that young adults with histories of parental incarceration are less likely to use health care and more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors compared with peers without parental incarceration. Such findings urge policy makers to reduce incarceration rates and help children maintain contact with their incarcerated parents. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 28, 2018

United States Sentencing Commission - 2018-2019 Public Priorities Selection

Patricia Allard

Dear colleagues: 

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JS Blog Post August 27, 2018

United States Sentencing Commission - Public Affairs – Priorities Comment

Patricia Allard

The Honorable William H. Pryor, Jr., Acting Chair

United States Sentencing Commission

1 Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2-500, South Lobby

Washington, DC 20002-8002

August 10, 20018

 

Attn: Public Affairs – Priorities Comment

 

Dear Judge Pryor:

 

The undersigned applaud the Commission’s consideration of conducting “a study of the operation of §5H1.6 (Family Ties and Responsibilities with respect to the loss of caretaking or financial support of minors” as part of its policy priorities for the amendment cycle 2018-2019.  Recent research documenting the harmful impact of parental incarceration on children, as well as a growing interest from policymakers and practitioners to mitigate the long-term harms to children and their communities suggests that the time is ripe for research and policy reform to provide alternatives to incarceration for parents in consideration of their children’s needs.

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News Article The Huffington Post July 6, 2018

More Democrats Want To Abolish ICE. Decriminalize Migration? Not So Much.

This article by Huffington Post reporter Roque Planas quotes Justice Strategies’ Executive Director Judith Greene, pointing out that at the root of the current family separation crisis is the criminalization of migration itself.  The article recounts the origins of this practice to a 1929 law introduced by South Carolina Senator Coleman Livingston Blease and embedded in the anti-Mexican and segregationist legacy of the times.  Despite calls from current day Congressional Democrats to end the Trump Administration’s practice of family separation, few are willing to call for an end to the racially charged practice of criminalizing migration.

JS Blog Post February 13, 2018

Washington State Senate Passes Bill to Expand Parental Diversion but Leaves Immigrant Families Out

Lill M. Hewko

Last Friday February 9th, 2018, the Washington State Senate passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5307 (ESSB 5307), which will help expand Washington State’s Family Offender Sentencing Alternative program beyond individuals with non-violent crimes and expands the definition of family to help keep more parents in the community. The bill now moves to the House Public Safety Committee for a hearing on February 15th, at 8am. Read more »

JS Blog Post November 21, 2017

Justice Strategies' Parental Diversion Presentation to the Washington State House Public Safety Committee

Lill M. Hewko

On November 17, 2017, Justice Strategies was asked to present to the Washington State Legislature's House Public Safety Committee on the importance of parental diversion through alternative sentencing programs. Below is our full statement provided to the legislators:

Dear Committee Members,

My name is Lillian Hewko and I am a research and policy analyst with Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to providing analysis and solutions to advocates and policymakers pursuing more humane and cost-effective approaches to criminal justice and immigration reform. We conduct research on sentencing and correctional policy, the political economy of incarceration, and the detention and imprisonment of immigrants.

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JS Blog Post November 21, 2017

The Rights of Children of Incarcerated and their Parents a Human Rights Issue

Lill M. Hewko

Justice Strategies (JS) is working to address the impact of parental incarceration on children as a human rights issue and will be attending and presenting at the 2017 Advancing Human Rights Conference in Atlanta December 7-10th. With over two million children in the United States experiencing parental incarceration, children of color are impacted disproportionately. In 2014, in response to advocacy by JS, the United Nations’ CERD Committee (Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination) made observations which included concerns on the negative impact of parental incarceration on children of color and called upon the US government to promote the use of alternatives to prison for parents of minor children. On July 24th , 2017, JS attended the US State Department’s Civil Society Consultation in Washington D.C. and made a statement to the department’s CERD Team urging the US government to uphold the observations regarding children of incarcerated parents at the federal, state and local level. We will continue to work to advance the rights of children of incarcerated and their parents as a human rights issue. Here is our full statement: 

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