Sentencing Policy

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 »

News Article PBS NewsHour November 4, 2016

New York City defied national trends, cut incarceration rate in half, study finds

In this story by PBS NewsHour's The Rundown, Ryan Connelly Holmes quotes Better By Half  co-authors Judith Greene and Vincent Schiraldi, as they question the efficacy of mass incarceration as a crime control strategy, and point to how community activism for diversion and sentencing alternatives, changes in police enforcement and District Attorney charging practices, as well as the 2009 Rockefeller Drug Law reforms, have led to a reduction of better than 50 percent in NYC's jail and prison populations, over two decades.  The study points the way for other jurisdictions to follow, the authors state.

JS Blog Post September 30, 2016

Giving Voice: Children of Incarcerated Speak From Experience

Patricia Allard

This past summer, the American Institutes for Research and the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated at Rutgers University organized a 2 day listening session with youth who have or have had incarcerated parents. This listening session was supported by the Office of Human Services Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the US Department of Justice. This was an opportunity to hear from children and youth about the impact of incarceration on their lives, as well as their vision of what could be done to minimize the impact of parental incarceration.

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