Families of inmates
This report attempts to discover how the children involved in the Volunteers of America (VOA) initiative Look Up and Hope (LUH) feel while their mother has been incarcerated. It sheds a light on the experiences of this special population of children and offers a way other jurisdictions can approach helping these kids. Sections of this publication include: background and purpose—the growing family problem of incarcerated mothers, and the creation of the LUH program; key findings—children with mothers in prison frequently experience great loss (i.e., homes, friends, and emotional support systems), they usually find strength and stability from those caregivers they love especially grandmothers, and children and families depend on their VOA family coaches or case managers; and conclusions and next steps.
"Through no fault of their own, millions of children have been exposed to and affected by the criminal justice system by witnessing their parent being arrested, by seeing their parent in court, or by visiting their parent in jail or prison. Indeed, many of the thousands of adult men and women who are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated each year leave behind minor children who must grapple with their parent’s absence for days, months, or years. Although such exposure does not always result in negative outcomes for children, the extant research does suggest that parental involvement in the criminal justice system can put children at risk of residential instability, economic strain and financial hardship, mental health problems, poor academic performance, and antisocial and delinquent behavior. Parental involvement in the system can be traumatic for children and can hinder the quality of the relationship they have with their parent … This toolkit and the strategies and experiences described herein are intended for people who are interested in developing family-focused jail programs in their own jurisdictions, such as jail practitioners and community-based organizations working with jail administrators and jail detainees" (p. 1). Sections cover: family-focused jail programs; Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights; considerations for developing a comprehensive family-focused jail program—identify goals, ensure that the process is collaborative, determine what components should be in the program (parenting classes, coached phone calls, contact visits, and others), and implement the program (program structure and sequence, eligibility, and staff training); challenges and lessons learned (have adequate and appropriate space for the various program components, strike a balance between having fun and providing a service, minimize the trauma associated with visiting a parent in jail, account for high population turnover in jails, and secure adequate, sustainable funding); and conclusion.
"This fact sheet is designed to serve as an overview of two family tools that help people visualize the connections within families and the connections families have to their community: genograms and ecomaps. This fact sheet also provides ideas for tribal probation officers about how they can incorporate family mapping tools into their work. Tribal probation officers may find that family mapping tools are useful for a number of reasons. Drawing a family map with a client can encourage them to open up and further develop a cooperative relationship with you as their probation officer. Seeing family and other connections represented visually can help probationers recognize links that may not otherwise be apparent to them. Visual tools can also be a source of pride, as probationers can chart changes to their maps, consolidate information about key contacts, and identify the supports they can access" (p. 2). A genomap is basically a family tree which shows the relationships between members in a probationer's family. An ecomap visually shows the links of resources and service providers that exist outside the family that can offer assistance to a probationer. The ways to make both of these family maps are provided.
This report expertly "reveals that the costs of incarceration run deeper than budget line items and extend far beyond the sentences served. Whether behind bars or returning home, people who have experienced incarceration are a part of families – whether chosen or blood related – to whom them contribute and by whom they are supported. Families pay both the apparent and hidden costs while their loved ones serve out sentences and for a long time after. Our research found that families struggle to afford exorbitant financial costs while also dealing with intense emotional and physical trauma when a loved one is taken away." Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; the true costs of the punitive criminal justice system—challenge of meeting basic needs (i.e., court fees and fines, challenges to building economic stability (i.e., employment, education, public benefits, and housing), challenges to maintaining relationships and family stability (i.e., costs of maintaining contact, family separation, and parent-child relationships), and challenges to health during incarceration and beyond (i.e., health impacts of incarceration); recommendations—restructure and reinvest, remove barriers, and restore opportunities; and conclusion.
The objective of this document is to detail a set of practices that correctional administrators can implement to remove barriers that inhibit children from cultivating or maintaining relationships with their incarcerated parents during and immediately after incarceration. This handbook contains ten chapters: partnership building; training and core competencies; intake and assessment; family notification and information provision; classes and groups; visitor lobbies; visiting; parent-child communication; caregiver support; family-focused reentry.