Sentencing Policy

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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JS Blog Post November 8, 2017

Reflections from an Incarcerated Dad

Lill M. Hewko

Nationally it is estimated that the number of kids who have had a parent in jail or prison at some point hovers around a conservative estimate of 5.1 million. For children with a parent in jail or prison, distance, cost, visitation restrictions, family conflict, and legal barriers can make it difficult for children to remain in contact with their parent. They may even lose that connection permanently as the Adoption and Safe Families Act is an even larger barrier for parents who are incarcerated. A young parent I work with, Daniel Loera, describes the importance of his daughter in his life,  as well as his young-adult insight regarding his own path to prison, his resilience, and his efforts to honor his family and find healthy community outside of gangs: Read more »

JS Blog Post October 25, 2017

An Update on Numbers for Native and Latinx Youth Supports Moves for Decarceration

Lill M. Hewko

This month, the Sentencing Project released their second and third fact sheets on racial and ethnic disparities in youth incarceration focusing on Native and Latinx* youth. We highlighted the first fact sheet on the disparities in incarceration for black youth here. Read more »

JS Blog Post September 20, 2017

Youth Incarceration Numbers are Down But Racial Disparities are Up--A New Fact Sheet from The Sentencing Project

Lill M. Hewko

Last week The Sentencing Project released its first of three fact sheets on racial and ethnic disparities in youth incarceration. State by state analysis shows that despite long-term declines in youth incarceration overall, racial disparities continue to grow. Read more »

JS Blog Post September 5, 2017

Sentenced to Lose: A message from a Young Incarcerated Father

Lill M. Hewko and Daniel Loera

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JS Blog Post August 8, 2017

Alternative Solutions: Washington Parental Alternative Sentencing Program Highlights

Lillian M. Hewko

Washington State has been the leader in the creation of an alternative sentencing program that supports families. The numbers available in their most recent “Fact Sheet” (available here) show why need to keep moving in this direction. Not only are a majority of parents successful in the program, many children are able to avoid being placed in foster care and unncessary separation. Read more »

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 »

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