Children of Incarcerated Parents

The Children of Incarcerated Parents blog is the first national blog dedicated to exploring the impact of parental incarceration on children and families. There are an estimated two million minor children in the United States who have an incarcerated parent. The incarceration of parents not only has a devastating and damaging impact on children, but it also affects their caregivers and the well-being and integrity of their families. Find out more.

JS Blog Post November 12, 2018

Veterans Day Focus: Incarcerated Veteran Parents

Riley Hewko, Esq.

On this Veteran’s Day 2018, as we honor our military veterans, it seemed appropriate to look at resources for incarcerated veterans who may have left children behind as they serve their sentences. Given the criminalization of living with addiction, mental health, and disabilities, former members of the US military often find themselves in trouble with the law. A study by RAND institute found that almost a third of people who survived combat in wars since 9/11 suffer from “invisible wounds,” such as a mental health condition or traumatic brain injury (TBI). This concern has led to the development of veteran’s courts, with the one criticism being that they are misapplied justice, as all people entering the justice system should receive similar support. A second criticism is that they are not provided to veterans who have committed violent or sexual assault crimes.

JS Blog Post October 29, 2018

Oregon State Continues to Lead in Supporting Children of Incarcerated Parents

Riley Hewko, Esq.

Oregon continues to lead in providing support for children of incarcerated parents. A recent training “Incarcerated Parents: Don’t Forget About Me” given earlier this month by Oregon Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Administrator of Programs & Social Support Services and the Department of Human Services (DHS) reflects a tone of changing attitudes often possessed by child welfare and prison staff. Specifically, the second and third slides of the presentation with their beliefs include: Read more »

JS Blog Post October 27, 2018

The Family First Prevention Services Act Offers Support for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Riley Hewko, Esq.

Last spring, groundbreaking legislation, The Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”), was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act allowing states to use federal funding to help keep families together and avoid out of home foster care placement entirely. Specifically, the legislation changes the way that Title IV-E funds can be spent by states by allowing funds to be used for prevention services that help keep kids at home or with their relatives. Prevention services include for example, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services, in-home skill-based parenting programs, foster care maintenance payments for children with parents in residential family-based substance abuse treatment facilities, and payments for kinship navigator programs.

JS Blog Post October 15, 2018

Policy Brief: Helping Children of Incarcerated Parents & Children in Foster Care Calls for Alternative Sentencing and Keeping Kids at Home

Riley Hewko, Esq.

We know parental incarceration often leads to additional challenges for already disadvantaged and under-resourced families. However, it may also lead to the complete and permanent loss of the parent-child relationship. When parents go away to prison, other parents, caregivers, and/or family members must step in to provide support. If these parents do not have another parent or family who can step in, many of these children will end up in the foster care system. Based on numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a majority of parents in state prisons have been in for 12 to 59 months and had 12 to 50 months left to serve. This time served is significantly more than the child welfare timeline allows and may lead to the permanent separation of families involved in the child welfare system. Read more »

JS Blog Post October 12, 2018

The Impact of Incarceration on Siblings

Riley Hewko, Esq. featuring poem by Incarcerated Father Mato Cikala

Glancing out my cell window,

as grainy salty tears drown my eyes to a blur.

One flows its way down my cheek              so                     slow

like rain on a window until it falls off my chin,

piercing my soul, reminiscing about my time growing up with my brothers.

 

I'm the oldest of three boys.

I hold this guilt

for taking our time together for granted

for leaving them to grow up without a positive role model

like an older brother should have.

 

Instead they have to visit their big brother in prison

With so many restrictions and limited time to show their support for so many years.

At the moment the youngest doesn't understand Read more »

JS Blog Post October 5, 2018

Study Update: Recent Study Shows Negative Public Health Impacts for Children with Histories of Parental Incarceration and Need for Decarceration Strategies

Riley Hewko, Esq.

A recent study confirms that incarceration is one of the major public health challenges of our time, not only for the people experiencing incarceration, but for children left behind. The study by Nia Heard-Garris MD et al, “Health Care Use and Health Behaviors Among Young Adults with History of Parental Incarceration,” found that young adults with histories of parental incarceration are less likely to use health care and more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors compared with peers without parental incarceration. Such findings urge policy makers to reduce incarceration rates and help children maintain contact with their incarcerated parents. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 28, 2018

United States Sentencing Commission - 2018-2019 Public Priorities Selection

Patricia Allard

Dear colleagues: 

  Read more »

JS Blog Post August 27, 2018

United States Sentencing Commission - Public Affairs – Priorities Comment

Patricia Allard

The Honorable William H. Pryor, Jr., Acting Chair

United States Sentencing Commission

1 Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2-500, South Lobby

Washington, DC 20002-8002

August 10, 20018

 

Attn: Public Affairs – Priorities Comment

 

Dear Judge Pryor:

 

The undersigned applaud the Commission’s consideration of conducting “a study of the operation of §5H1.6 (Family Ties and Responsibilities with respect to the loss of caretaking or financial support of minors” as part of its policy priorities for the amendment cycle 2018-2019.  Recent research documenting the harmful impact of parental incarceration 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 research and policy reform to provide alternatives to incarceration for parents in consideration of their children’s needs.

  Read more »

JS Blog Post February 13, 2018

Washington State Senate Passes Bill to Expand Parental Diversion but Leaves Immigrant Families Out

Lill M. Hewko

Last Friday February 9th, 2018, the Washington State Senate passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5307 (ESSB 5307), which will help expand Washington State’s Family Offender Sentencing Alternative program beyond individuals with non-violent crimes and expands the definition of family to help keep more parents in the community. The bill now moves to the House Public Safety Committee for a hearing on February 15th, at 8am. Read more »

JS Blog Post January 16, 2018

A Good Start to the New Year: Expanding Opportunities for Parental Diversion

Lill M. Hewko

 

 

A mother parenting and serving time for a violent crime with her son at the Washington Corrections Center for Women holiday event. Photo Credit: Maria Bryk Photography.

 

“Our love goes beyond bars.”

-T.Q. and M.L, Mothers at Washington Corrections Center for Women 

Advocates in Washington and Tennessee are providing an antidote to the terrible criminal justice efforts that the new year has brought us on the federal level. In Washington State, advocates today will be testifying to “Say yes to keeping families together” by supporting Senate Bill 5307.

SB 5307 is an effort to expand Washington State’s current alternative sentencing program which would allow to more parents to serve time in the community instead of behind bars. Specifically, the WA legislation will expand the law to allow more families stay together and reduce the negative affects of parent-child separation due to incarceration by: Read more »

Monthly Feature

Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People's Movement Western Regional Conference

Convened by All of Us or None & Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Sunday, September 20th & Monday, September 21st

Formerly incarcerated and convicted people, family members, community and spiritual leaders, elected officials and government employees will all come together to strengthen our relationships and work towards making change through community empowerment. We invite you to Voice your opinion, learn your rights and learn what changes we can make together. All of Us or None Contact: (415)-255-7036 ext. 337 www.prisonerswithchildren.org

FREE REGISTRATION: eventbrite.com