Sentencing Policy

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 November 14, 2014

Why Mother-Child Alternatives to Incarceration Are Vital

Gail Smith

Have you ever seen a toddler suddenly separated from the mother? A tiny tot, whose mother set her down for a moment, put her arms around the legs of a nearby shopper in a crowded store, only to look up and realize she had the wrong woman. Panic quickly set in; the reaction was not only “Where’s my mom?” but a piercing wail that said, “I’m gonna die!” The mom quickly picked up her child, who was soon soothed. The cause of that panic is based in one of our most basic human experiences: bonding and attachment.

Every baby needs at least one solid attachment that they can count on. Attachment takes place through a stress and stress-reduction cycle. Babies get hungry and they let us know by crying. The primary caregiver, usually the mother, feeds the baby and the baby learns to trust that the mom will be there to provide sustenance and comfort. Without someone there to feed them reliably, babies in fact would die. This first experience of learning to trust someone forms the basis for all of our later relationships, our sense of self, and our capacity to function in the world without undue anxiety. Mother-child bonding is most critical in the first six months of a baby’s life, and continues until the child is about age six. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 25, 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, Washington, D.C.

Patricia Allard

Hill Briefing

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Hosts

Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States

 

“When my mother was sentenced, I felt that I was sentenced. . . She was sentenced to prison – to be away from her kids and her family.  I was sentenced, as a child, to be without my mother.”

- Antoinette, an adult, who was 8 years old when her mother was incarcerated[1]

When: On Wednesday, September 3, 2014 from 11-12:30pm

Where: Rayburn Building Room 2253

What: Please join Justice Strategies to examine how Congress can foster family integrity by offering alternatives to incarceration for parents convicted of non-violent drug or drug-related offences. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 21, 2014

United Nations Hears About the Impact of Parental Incarceration on Children

Patricia Allard

Formal Briefing on the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at the Palais des Nations, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland: The Children's Right Work Group of the US Human Rights Network (pre-recorded video presentation) presented a powerful statement, encompassing the following concerns: over medication and use of psychotropic medications of Black girls, child labor primarily affecting Latino children in the US, necessity for alternatives to incarceration of parents convicted of non-violent drug offenses and children of color's right to family wellbeing and integrity, concerns about trying youth in adult courts who are sentenced to adult prisons, school to prison pipeline, and removal of Indigenous children from their People.

Presenters: Stephanie Franklin (Franklin Law Group), Julia Perez, Patricia Allard (Justice Strategies) and Angelo Pinto (Correctional Association of NY). Videographer: Bo Yih Thom, Breakaway Addiction Services

JS Publication August 13, 2014

Justice Strategies CERD Report on Alleviating Impact of Parental Incarceration

In this brief report, Justice Strategies researcher Patricia Allard argues: 1) for judges to be allowed the discretion to sentence parents to alternatives to prison, and 2) to require, under federal and state law, that Family Impact Statements be submitted to the court prior to sentencing determinations.  These arguments form the basis of Justice Strategies' civil society shadow report submission to the 85th Session of the United Nation's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) taking place in Geneva, Switzerland the week of August 10th, 2014.  Follow Pat's reporting from Geneva on our COIP blog, Facebook page and Twitter feeds.

JS Publication August 13, 2014

Justice Strategies Testifies before US Dept. of State on Border Crossing Prosecutions

In this testimony provided to the US Department of State, Justice Strategies' Director, Judith Greene discusses our concerns with the tremendous increase in misdemeanor and felony prosecutions filed against those crossing the border under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1325 and Sec. 1326, respectively, from 2002 to 2013.   In addition, we express our concerns with the segregated, sub-standard prisons being exclusively administered by private, for-profit prison corporations under contract to the US Bureau of Prisons.  This testimony is provided as part of the reveiw of the US government by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination being conducted in Geneva.  Follow our reporting on the proceedings in Geneva on Facebook and Twitter.

JS Blog Post August 8, 2014

United States Government on the Hot Seat for the Detrimental Impact on Children of Parental Incarceration

Patricia Allard
 
The United States Government is under review at the 85th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The Committee is being asked to seriously consider: What can the United States Government do to address the psychological, emotional and physical needs of Indigenous, African-American and Latino children who face parental incarceration? As a member of civil society, Justice Strategies offers the following two suggestions as an opportunity for the Unites States government to honor the needs of children.
JS Blog Post August 2, 2014

Comments to USSC on 2015 Commission Priorities

Patricia Allard and Judith Greene

TO:  The United States Sentencing Commission, Submitted via email to pubaffairs [at] ussc [dot] gov on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FROM:  Patricia Allard and Judith Greene, Justice Strategies

Re:  Comments to USSC on 2015 Commission Priorities: Alleviating the Impact of Parental Incarceration on Indigenous, African-American and Latino Children Through Sentencing Reform 

You have requested comments on possible priority policy issues for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2015.  We urge you to consider taking measures that can reduce the egregious and long term impact of prison sentences on the children of people convicted of drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses.  Our comments are drawn from the findings contained in our recent research report, Children on the Outside:  Voicing the Pain and Human Costs of Parental Incarceration.[i]     Read more »

JS Blog Post July 15, 2014

FREE HER Rally

Patricia Allard

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, the Families for Justice as Healing (http://justiceashealing.org) held a historic gathering, FREE HER Rally, on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The FREE HER rally and campaign was organized by women and others who support the ending of mass incarceration. The goals of the Free Her Rally were to "(1) raise awareness of the increase in the rate of incarceration of women in the United States and the impact on our children and communities, (2) Demand an end to voter disenfranchisement for people with felony convictions and (3) to ask President Obama to commute the sentences of women and men in the federal system who have applied for commutation." (http://justiceashealing.org/free-her-...)

Andrea James, the force behind Families for Justice as Healing and the organizer extraordinaire behind the Free Her Rally, closed the rally with a powerful call to action, asking participants to keep advocating for sentencing reform for parents who have minor children on the outside. Watch James' call to action.

JS Blog Post June 15, 2014

The Spark of Resistance Ignited

Tina Reynolds

Prior to my incarceration, I never thought of becoming an advocate.  I was subsumed by old emotions that prohibited me from taking action.  My inability to assert myself stemmed from a fear of what the repercussion might be from those in power. This fear kept me in my place, making myself as small and unnoticeable as possible.  This was my experience until my last bid (prison term).  I carried remnants of being small and in my place with me throughout my relationships - with my family who had assisted me with my children and with the various systems with which I had to interface.  While in prison even though I knew and had been told that what I was experiencing was wrong, I knew I wasn’t the only one experiencing this, and so, I relied on other women who I viewed as stronger than me to act.  Read more »

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