Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Members of Family Integrity Campaign Respond to Introduction of the FAMILIES Act that Provides Alternatives to Incarceration for Parents


November 19, 2020

New York, NY - Today, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7) introduced the FAMILIES Act, which aims to divert parents from prison and would instead keep them united with their children through a comprehensive community supervision program that would provide resources, services and training to parents and their children. In response, members of the Family Integrity Campaign, which includes experts and advocates with family connections to those who have been incarcerated, made the following statements:

Patricia Allard, Chair of the Family Integrity Campaign, said:

“The Family Integrity Campaign strongly supports the FAMILIES Act. This federal bill tackles the needs of both federal and state families impacted by mass incarceration; it advances the needs of individuals, as well as their family units, while maintaining public safety. Offering parents the chance to prioritizes their well-being and that of their children and families must be commended. We applaud this forward-looking piece of law, which will have a far-reaching impact on all communities, especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous ones.“

Isabel Coronado, Policy Entrepreneur at Next100, a citizen of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation, and a daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother said:

“I am hopeful for a future where the criminal justice system recognizes that the full impact of incarceration extends beyond those facing incarceration to their families, their communities, and especially their children. I appreciate Senator Wyden and Representative Jayapal for leading the charge to ensure children are not forgotten by our justice system. Currently, the children of incarcerated parents face rocky paths to educational attainment, housing instability, greater chance of entering the foster care system, and increased mental health needs. The FAMILIES act is crucial for children to maintain their relationships with their parents with added services that reduce recidivism and mitigate long-term trauma. By changing the course of incarcerated parents' futures, we now have a chance to change the course of their children’s lives for the better.”

Read Isabel’s article on the systemic impacts parental incarceration has on children: “We Are Not Collateral Consequences: Children of Incarcerated Parents.”

Shannon Wight, Deputy Director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice based in Oregon, said:

“We strongly supported the creation of a family alternatives program in Oregon to help avert the negative consequences for children when parents and caregivers are incarcerated. The FAMILIES Act takes that energy and expands it nationwide, a step in the right direction. If passed, this bill will allow Congress and many states to avoid the ills of separating families and instead to support parents, children and their communities to grow and thrive.

Ebony Underwood, Chief Executive Officer/Founder of We Got Us Now, and a daughter of a currently incarcerated father said:

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting alternatives to incarceration and strategies for decarceration are a desperately needed humane solution for families and their children. WE GOT US NOW believes one significant solution to #KeepFamiliesConnected is the FAMILIES ACT, a parenting sentencing/family-based alternative sentencing program that would divert parents from prison and keep them united with their children through comprehensive programming that provides resources, services and training to parents and their children. There are currently 2.7 million children under the age of 18 with a parent incarcerated in the US. The separation of a parent from their child due to incarceration brings life-long trauma. WE believe this legislation is a necessary solution to support the socio-emotional well-being of children with parents facing incarceration, decarcerate the overpopulated criminal justice system and lessen the likelihood of another generation of mass incarceration.”

Other members of the coalition available for comment include:

• Susan Leavell, Program Administrator of the Parent Alternative Sentencing at Washington Department of Corrections

• Andrea James, Founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girl, and a formerly incarcerated woman

• Riley Hewko, Attorney, Research and Policy Analyst consultant at Justice Strategies


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