New York

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 »

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 »

JS Blog Post May 29, 2014

Organize, Resist, and End shackling of pregnant women

Tina Reynolds

Beside raising my family and pursuing a career, changing policy is one of the greatest challenges I have pursued in the last twenty years as a formerly incarcerated mother.  Although it has been almost twenty years since I was shackled and handcuffed during transport to the hospital and during labor before giving birth to my son, Kai, the anti-shackling organizing efforts here in New York were by far the most rewarding for me. The reality of shackling incarcerated women during labor continues to baffle me.    Thankfully some headway has been made to end this oppressive and dehumanizing policy with approximately twenty states enforcing laws that prohibit some form of shackling of incarcerated pregnant women in the United States.  Yet, reproductive justice rights are practically nonexistent for incarcerated women in this country.  Ending shackling is the low hanging fruit policy effort to begin a conversation about reproductive justice rights for incarcerated women. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 20, 2014

Twenty Years After: Forgiveness

Tina Reynolds

To all of my fellow GEMS, this submission is for you.  Being a “good enough mom” (GEM) takes the pressures off of having to get everything right.  When I came home from prison, I was on a quest to gain some semblance of “normalcy” – find a job and make a home for me and my children. To accomplish this, I didn’t search within myself. I sought external activities; I became involved with various groups, community organizations, churches and colleges.

While on my “normalcy” quest, I became friends with a wonderful woman, Mildred. She got to know me quickly and could see that I struggled with trusting others, feeling safe and maintaining a sense of hope.  Mildred wisely told me that these characteristics did not come from my experience in prison, but rather they are deeply rooted in my past life experiences. Therefore, on my quest for “normalcy” after prison, along with my involvement in advocacy efforts, I began to unearth, understand and heal from my childhood trauma. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 9, 2014

Twenty Years After Prison - A Mother’s Thoughts

Tina Reynolds

In 1995, my youngest son and I walked out of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. What I know from the experience of raising my son in prison during the first year of his life is that he never knew he was in prison.  He never knew his mother had to stand for count, wear green every day, wear state shoes, ask for toilet paper or sanitary napkins, or to never be called by her first name.  He never knew that his mother had to suffer oppression, listen to relentless humiliations, or be treated without dignity by prison staff.   He never knew he lived in a building with other mothers who were incarcerated.  He never knew he lived in a nursery behind bars.  However, what I am sure of is my son knew he was loved. Read more »

News Article The New York Times November 10, 2010

Report Questions the System Used to Flag Rikers Island Inmates for Deportation

As the Obama administration steps up efforts to deport immigrants held on criminal charges, federal officials in New York City have long been on the job. At the city’s main jail on Rikers Island, immigration officers comb through lists of foreign-born inmates, then question, detain and deport about 3,200 of them a year. Read more »

News Article WNYC News November 10, 2010

Critics Question Department of Corrections' Relationship with Federal Immigration Authorities

For twenty years, Federal immigration officials have been stationed on Rikers Island. Critics say the Department of Corrections offers them too much assistance in identifying foreign-born non-citizens, some of whom end up in deportation proceedings. The practice came under fire Monday during a City Council hearing. Critics say all too often immigrants who are in detention, but have not been convicted of a crime, are reported to ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

JS Publication November 12, 2010

New York City Enforcement of Immigration Detainers

Justice Strategies is conducting research for a forthcoming report on the combined impact of drug laws and immigration enforcement on jailers, prisoners and taxpayers. The New York City Department of Corrections provided Justice Strategies with a database of all discharges in 2008. We analyzed the dataset of noncitizen prisoners whose top charge is a drug-related offense. Justice Strategies found that:

  • While Homeland Security purports to target the most dangerous offenders, there appears to be no correlation between offense level and identification for deportation.
News Article Philadelphia Inquirer March 25, 2010

Shrinking Pa.'s Prison Population

A new report by the Pew Center on the States shows that while the national prison population declined last year for the first time in 38 years, Pennsylvania's number of inmates increased more than any other state's. Read more »

JS Publication March 3, 2010

Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States

Downsizing Prisons is a collaborative research effort between Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project that examines four states – Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York -- that have moved against the growth trend in state prison populations of 12% since 2000. These states achieved significant declines in prison populations and offer lessons to policymakers in other states. Read more »

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