National

News Article Albuquerque Journal May 14, 2016

Immigration offenders jam federal court in NM

Executive Directors Judy Greene, of Justice Strategies, and Bob Libal, of Grassroots Leadership, offer insights into federal court felony prosecution of immigrants for illegal entry and re-entry in New Mexico in the attached Alququerque Journal article. The number of people apprehended for crossing the border illegally has fallen eighty percent in fifteen years.  However, though fewer people illegally cross the border today, those who are apprehended are more likely to be prosecuted and jailed.  Illegal entry and re-entry prosecutions, especially along the border, have skyrocketed in the last twenty years.  From 2011 to 2015 alone, immigration cases in the New Mexico's federal courts have increased by eighty percent.  New Mexico charges nearly one hundred percent of re-entry cases as felonies, and does not allow defendants to plea down to a lesser charge. 

Recent studies suggest that immigrants who have children or relatives in the U.S. are unlikely to be dissuaded by repeated apprehensions, jail time or deportation.  A 2015 study of eighteen thousand illegal re-entry cases by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that half of offenders had at least one child living in the United States at the time of their apprehension.  More than two-thirds had relatives other than children in the U.S. Read more »

JS Blog Post April 20, 2016

Breaking the Cycle: A Family-focused Approach to Criminal Sentencing in Illinios

Lauren Feig

 

Breaking the Cycle: A Family-focused Approach to Criminal Sentencing in Illinios

Abstract 

The collateral damage of parental incarceration to children is a hidden cost of current punitive criminal sentencing policies that overlook the needs of children and impose barriers to maintaining strong parent-child bonds. This paper presents a familyfocused approach to criminal sentencing, which aims to promote better outcomes for offenders and their children by aligning sentencing decisions to the severity of the crime committed, the risks and strengths of the offender, and the offender’s family context. It will address existing gaps in federal and state sentencing guidelines and provide policy and practice recommendations to help advance family-focused sentencing in Illinois. 

News Article The Intercept April 4, 2016

Prisoners in Multiple States Call for Strikes to Protest Forced Labor

Director Judy Greene comments on the growing protest in prisons across the country calling for work stoppages by those incarcerated there and an end to forced labor for pennies per hour and medical co-pays of $100, among other grievances.  The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution banned slavery and involuntary servitude, "except as a punishment for crime..."  This is the basis for a legalized form of slavery through our criminal justice system, prison protesters charge.

News Article Full Frontal with Samantha Bee March 30, 2016

Samantha Bee Makes Serious Points on Private Prison Industry

Samantha Bee of TBS's Full Frontal With Samantha Bee makes some serious points in her comedy show about the private prison industry's effect on our criminal justice system.  Although couched in comedic expression, her video raises important concerns about the threat private for-profit corporations pose when operating within any part of our criminal justice system.  Allegations of kickbacks to criminal justice officials, lobbying legislators for harsher and longer criminal penalties, and a Pennsylvania judge with ties to a private prison corporation found guilty of sending juveniles to prison for profit, should concern all Americans who understand the need for vigilance in the safeguarding of our freedoms, and who expect impartial justice.

JS Publication March 23, 2016

US Sentencing Commission Testimony Mar. 21, 2016

In this joint testimony regarding proposed sentencing enhancements for unlawfully entering or remaining in the US, Justice Strategies and Grassroots Leadership provide the US Sentencing Commission with insights into the views of the judges, federal public defenders, private attorneys and individuals who, on a daily basis deal with, and have been directly impacted by, these prosecutions.

JS Blog Post March 9, 2016

Make it Quick: The Kids Only Have 24 Hours with Dad

Patricia Allard

Nightline’s Face to Face with Juju Chang presents "One Day with God" -  a prison program that runs in seven states. Fathers have 24 hours to build memories with their children in the prison gymnasium. One father teaches the importance of cursive writing to his son, while another has an intimate moment dancing with his daughter. Chang summarized this precious day as follows: “Throughout the day, it’s clear that the dads are trying to cram years of parenting into a couple of hours.”

In-prison and re-entry programs are critical in maintaining healthy connections between fathers and children. However, we do have the opportunity to further limit the damage visited on children when their parents face a possible prison term. We talk about the best interest of the child but when we consider severing the parent-child bond when a father faces a prison term, we fail to take an inquisitive look at the impact a prison term will have on the family unit, especially children. Read more »

JS Blog Post February 27, 2016

United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Speaks to the Best Interests of Children of Incarcerated Parents

Patricia Allard

On Thursday, January 21st, 2016, the US Human Rights Network and the Franklin Law Group, P.C. convened a Civil Society Roundtable with the members of the UN Working Group of Experts on People     of African Descent          (UN WGEPAD) during their first official visit to the United States. This convening provided the opportunity for civil society to spotlight persistent issues of racial        discrimination in the United States,    and engage the Working Group on policy recommendations, and   lift up best practices for   replication at the state, national and international levels.   Read more »

JS Blog Post December 2, 2015

Incarceration Generation: Families Left Behind

Lisa Ling

In “Incarceration Generation: Families Left Behind , brought to viewers by Lisa Ling’s Our America  and sponsored by OWN, we get an up close and personal picture of the impact on families of incarcerating Black fathers in America.

JS Blog Post November 2, 2015

Sentencing Parents, Sentencing Children: Trick or Treat Halloween Without Mom or Dad

Patricia Allard

“Trick or treat” are the cherished words I like to hear every year at Halloween when I open my door. Batman, Cinderella and the witch are yearly visitors, and I am always prepared with my small but tasty, chocolate treats. Many older children come knocking for their Halloween treats while their mom or dad, in some cases both parents – mom and dad, dad and dad or mom and mom – patiently wait by the curb with a watchful eye. This year a little one came to my door in her daddy’s arms, experiencing this Western tradition for the first time.  Dad urged her to utter those cherished words. The sweet girl in her cat costume shyly said in a practically indiscernible voice, “Trick or Treat”.  Her dad proudly flashed a beaming smile while the little girl lite up as I deposited M&M chocolates in her orange, plastic pumpkin container.  Watching them leave my porch, I was struck by the thought that this Halloween over 2.7 million American children were not being accompanied by their mother or father due to the cruel separation that is enforced by parental incarceration. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 25, 2015

A letter to the judge who sentenced her father

Maria Lloyd

Maria Lloyd , 23-year old adult child of an incarcerated father, sends a poignant letter to the judge who sentenced her father to five life sentences for drug trafficking. The letter says it all.

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