Sentencing Policy

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 May 12, 2017

National Mama’s Bail Out Day: Taking a Stance & Reuniting Families Torn Apart by the Criminal Justice System.

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

What is the best way to maintain contact between children and their incarcerated parents? To get them out of jail in the first place! As reported by the Huffington post, this week just before Mother’s Day the Black Lives Matter Movement created “National Mama’s Bail Out Day” to give mothers (queer, trans, immigrant, young, elder and disabled) the greatest give of all—the gift of being with their children instead of being held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.

Each day the cost of bail is devastating for parents (of all genders), families, and communities across our nation. In California alone, it is estimated that over 60% of individuals are held on pretrial bail—meaning they haven’t been convicted of a crime, they just can’t afford bail. A recent report by Justice Policy Institute found that bail bond companies take billions from low-income people with no return on investment in terms of public safety, and instead, create added costs to communities. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 10, 2017

Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States: What We Know and What We Still Need to Learn

Megan Sullivan

By: Megan Sullivan*

This is the first of a three-part series on children of incarcerated parents. My thanks to Justice Strategies for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this series.

I come to the topic of children with incarcerated parents from several vantage points. First, I was ten years old when my father was arrested and received a two-to-five-year sentence for larceny. I know firsthand that while the relationship between a parent’s incarceration and a child’s outcomes is not obvious or proscriptive, there are important reasons to pay attention to this relationship. Read more »

JS Blog Post April 21, 2017

No Way Out for Parents Charged with Violent Crimes

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

“Now that I have a child of my own, I want to be in her life and show her that I have changed into a responsible adult.” –Daniel Loera, 21 years old, Monroe Correctional Facility

Daniel is one of the 45 percent of men in prison under 24 years old who are fathers. Daniel, featured in our last fatherhood blog, wants nothing more than a second chance so that he can help parent his 4-year old daughter, but Daniel has no no way out anytime soon. He is serving a 7.75-year sentence for an assault he committed when he was 16. With no options for an early release and with his daughter in foster care, he may permanently lose his parental rights. Read more »

JS Blog Post April 7, 2017

“An Unlikely Partnership”: A New Film Fostering the Possibilities of Alternatives to Incarceration for Parents

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

I got arrested 5 days before my kid’s 6th birthday, they’re 9 years old now...I was just so low. Not being able to see my kids. Having to call on the phone. Having to ask, is this Brianna or is this Michaela. There shouldn’t ever be a point in my life where I don’t know whose voice I’m hearing.”

These are the words of a formerly incarcerated mother from in a recent film “An Unlikely Partnership: Strengthening Families Touched By Incarceration.” These words exhibit the reality that although the time spent parenting from the inside is invaluable, the pain of being separated and not being able to parent on a consistent basis is heartbreaking. Fortunately, in this mother’s case she was able to get early release to be with her twins at about 12 months under the Family Offender Sentencing Alternative’s (FOSA) Community Parenting Alternative (Early Release) in Washington State. 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 February 27, 2017

Damaging Impact of Parental Incarceration in Louisiana

Patricia Allard

The Times-Picayune's multi-part series on the impact of parental incarceration on children shines the light on the experiences of children  and their families as the navigate to choppy waters of the Louisiana correctional system. While the series focuses on Louisiana, millions of children across the nation live through very similar experiences. It's time to protect children's right to family. 

Family Sentence

News Article Huffington Post December 22, 2016

‘Tis The Season For Miracles: Eight-Year-Old Darina Tries To Get Her Incarcerated Dad Closer To Home

This article, by Patricia Allard, of Justice Strategies, and Lillan Hewko, Attorney & Co-founder of the Incarcerated Parents Project of the Washington Defender Association, and equally moving embedded video by Silicon Valley De-Bug, relates the story of Darina, an eight year old whose wish is to have her incarcerated father moved to a federal facility nearer her home so that she could "just drive" to see him.  In three years Darina has been able to make the 2,000 mile journey to see her father in Texas only once.  In this season of compassion and caring for others, we are reminded by Darina's story that our criminal justice system should and can do better to ensure that, yes, justice is done but in a manner that takes into account the burdens placed on the children and families of the incarcerated, and preserves parent-child bonds important for successful re-entry back into family and community life. 

JS Blog Post December 12, 2016

International Human Rights Day – Call to Action for Our Children's Lives!

Patricia Allard

International Human Rights DayCall to Action!

Yesterday, December 10th, was International Human Rights Day. Now that we have celebrated and honored this tremendously important day. Please welcome this CALL 2 ACTION to ensure we advance the well-being of each and everyone of us and work together to make the world a safer and more joyful place to thrive in.

Children of Incarcerated Parents Read more »

JS Blog Post November 15, 2016

In 2017 Our Children and Families Will Need Support More Than Ever

Patricia Allard

Impact of Parental Incarceration on Children

Summary:  Over two million children in the United States are lost in a sea of draconian laws that have led to mass incarceration.  Approximately 50 percent of incarcerated individuals in U.S. prisons are parents. Incarceration of parents has devastating effects on their vulnerable children, increasing mental health and behavioural problems, contributing to child homelessness and poverty, and intensifying intergenerational inequalities.  Recent research documenting the harmful impact that parental incarceration visits 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 policy reform to offer (1) appropriate alternatives to incarceration for parents of young children and/or (2) early release from prison for parents of young children. Read more »

Syndicate content