Advancing Human Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents in the US and Across Global Frontlines


Pictured: Justice Strategies on panel Discussion "Human Rights & Advancing Global Frontlines for the Long-term." From left to right, Rosalee Gonzalez, PHD, University of Arizona, Lill M. Hewko, Justice Strategies, Chief Thomas Darsar, United Houma Nation, Onaje Muid-Human Rights Cities Alliance.


Justice Strategies was busy last week at the 2017 Advancing Human Rights Conference led by the US Human Rights Network in Atlanta on December 7-10thWe helped lead a conversation on how to approach judicial issues using a human rights lens on Friday December 8th. On Sunday December 10th, to help close the conference, we spoke to our work with UNCERD (Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination) to address change here in the U.S. in pushing alternative sentencing for parents in prison. In 2014 Justice Strategies was successful in getting the UNCERD Committee to raise the negative impact of parental incarceration on children of color and call upon the US government to promote the use of alternatives to prison for parents of minor children in the committee’s conclusions and observations. The U.S. has still not submitted their report that was due fall of 2017. If you are interested in getting involved with the USHRN's work, you can join the listserve by emailing CERD [at] ushrnetwork [dot] organd/or apply to join the UNCERD taskforce here.

JS most recently raised the UNCERD conclusions and observations in front of the Washington State Legislature, urging them to reflect on international and local support for expanding opportununities to divert more parents from prison. Washington's current program is limited in that it requires physical custody, is limited to individuals with non-violent crimes and denies immigrants with detainers.

At the conference JS was part of a facilitator team with Krystal Rountree, I am We, Jihad Abdulmumit, prison advocate, Joshua Cooper, Four Freedoms Forum, Nikki Reisch and Deborah Popowski, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law. Together we facilitated conversations to dive deep around the human rights violations that pertain to "Judicial Justice" such as the 13th Amendment/legalized slavery, racism within the judicial justice system, the criminalization of poverty and the separation of children and families due to incarceration (in jails, prisons and immigration detention centers) and the child welfare system. During our second half, we delved into how judicial justice issues intersect with other issues, such as health justice, housing justice, education justice, economic justice, environmental justice.

Pictured: Krystal Rountree pictured during our discussion session with Jihad Abdulmumit and Jamil Dakwar with the ACLU.


Here is a link to a quick video clip from our session with Krystal Rountree from IAMWE Prison Advocacy Network responding to the question of "How do we have a long-term goal of ending incarceration via prison abolition goals when we are responding to fires constantly due to the abhorrent conditions of confinement." The issue came up in the room as some people were concerned as the idea of shutting down prisons is an ideal goal, but what about when people’s human rights are being denied currently. She responds with a call for us to even as we respond to these “fires” to continue to work towards that larger goal to end prisons. That we need to work together, that different people need to be involved at all levels, but we can still have a vision for abolition. Also, as you can tell from all of our laughs, working towards prison abolition and human rights can be fun!


Lill M. Hewko, J.D.


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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