By Christopher Zoukis Those are the words of young Brooklynite, Vidal Chastanet, describing on Humans of New York (HONY) how his teacher, Nadia Lopez, explains the importance of education for individual and social well-being. While we generally focus on prison education initiatives on this blog, we would be remiss to not include to mention the…Read More
Image courtesy trendingexpress.com By Christopher Zoukis This Mother’s Day, like this past Christmas I won’t be able to speak with my mom and tell her I love her. (And this isn’t because I’m in prison, but because I’ve spoken out about prison conditions and have had my phone privileges rescinded). I say not this to…Read More
By Rebecca Klein / The Huffington Post If state budget trends reflect the country’s policy priorities, then the U.S. currently values prisoners over children, a new report suggests. A report released this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the growth of state spending on prisons in recent years has far…Read More
By Diane Aisha Sears
Once upon a time we were a village. Now life was not perfect, but the village’s greatest treasures and most vulnerable members – its children and its Elders – for the most part, were loved, protected and respected. Parents, extended family members, educators, school administrators, religious leaders, health care professionals and providers, social services professionals and providers, the business community, legislators, and neighbors worked together to help positively shape the minds and souls of the children of the village. In their eyes, children were the “Promise of a New Day” and the “heart and soul” of the village. The village symbolized hope – it was a vibrant oasis. Today, a dark cloud of chaos and hopelessness hovers over the village as it grapples with chaos, fatherlessness, intergenerational incarceration, the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and rising violence. It is difficult to feel loved, protected, and safe or to dream about and plan for your future in an environment that is besieged by chaos and hopelessness. Perhaps we simply need to rebuild the village. Perhaps it is time for the children who were once raised by the village to, in some way, raise the village.
Through a powerful two-tiered initiative – Fathers And Children Together (F.A.C.T.) – Mr. Sam Brown, the Chairman of Unity Community Action Network (UCAN) and Mr. Luis Gonzalez, President of the Latin American Cultural Exchange Organization (L.A.C.E.O.) at SCI Graterford are raising the village by helping the village raise its children. F.A.C.T. is the result of a historic collaboration among African American and Latino incarcerated men at SCI Graterford to resolve the key challenges of Fatherlessness, intergenerational incarceration, the “school-to-prison pipeline” and violence that serve as obstacles to living a happier, healthier, and longer life and helping our children – the Next Generation of Leaders, Husbands, Fathers, Wives, and Mothers – from maturing into purpose-driven, productive, and successful adults. Under Mr. Brown’s leadership, fathers at SCI Graterford are reunited with their children while mothers are simultaneously moved into the Fatherhood equation. The initiative is fully embraced and supported by Pennsylvania State Representative The Honorable Ronald G. Waters. F.A.C.T. is a national model to resolve Fatherlessness, intergenerational incarceration, and the “school-to-prison” pipeline that provides an orientation session and workshops for Fathers incarcerated at SCI Graterford and visitation with their children. The conclusion of the program is punctuated with a graduation ceremony where participating Fathers receive a certificate.
The Miami and faith-based organization Children of Inmates works with local services to help strengthen the bond between these children and imprisoned parents. The belief is strong that by keeping this bond strong, the trauma will be minimized.
Children of incarcerated parents are often left in either foster homes or with grandparents. They can spend years not knowing what it is like to grow up with a family bond.