Luna Garcia swipes through the photos on her phone until she finds it — the one of a young man with a slight mustache standing against a wall, his blue shirt neatly pressed, holding a chubby baby girl. It’s the kind of picture someone might snap at a holiday dinner, a grainy image of a girl and her dad. But just out of the frame are armed guards and metal doors. It was visiting day at San Quentin State Prison. It’s a rare photo of Luna with her father. Now 17, she doesn’t have any of him at birthday parties or science fairs. Jose Garcia was serving two years in San Quentin when she was born and has been in and out of incarceration ever since. In the few photos she does have, she can trace the passing years by the colors of his prison jumpsuits.
“He tells me that’s the only thing he knows how to do,” Luna says, her voice flat, resigned. “Prison is all he knows.”
From a small room in Center City, radio activist Vanessa Graber wants to broadcast the realities of post-prison life to thousands of Philadelphians. Next week, PhillyCam, the public-access media nonprofit, will launch WPPM 106.5. It’s one of three new radio stations created following a grassroots push to carve out more slots on FM dials across the country. Graber’s show — hosted by four women with rap sheets — is one of the programs that will air on the community-centric station, which will also reach parts of North and South Philadelphia, as well as across the river in Camden. It’s believed to be the first radio show about re-entry that’s hosted by women ex-offenders.
Putting Young Students on the Right Path: Ending Discretionary Suspensions in Texas
What’s Happening Across Texas
Texas elementary schoolchildren — some as young as four — are suspended and sent to alternative schools at alarming rates. During the 2013-2014 school year, almost half of all elementary school suspensions in Texas were issued to pre-K through 2nd grade students. Students are often removed from school for minor Student Code of Conduct violations such as horseplay, disruption of class, or dress code violations. These removals are not required under state law — they are ultimately left to the teacher’s discretion (hence the term “discretionary”). Furthermore, school districts have the ability to create their own student codes of conduct that go well beyond state law, allowing suspensions of our youngest students for normal, age-appropriate behavior. Texas Appleseed is working to change this harmful practice. There are better, proven solutions available to teachers and schools than these discretionary suspensions.
How would you react if suddenly hospitals simply replaced in-person patient visitation with video conferencing? Hospital administrators might justify this decision by saying that hospitals are scary places, so it‘s best to protect family members, especially young people, from being traumatized.
The idea that a bureaucracy could so severely restrict a family’s right to see their loved ones might seem unthinkable. However, for the 2.3 million people who were incarcerated in the United States, 744,600 of whom were in jails as of 2014, it could become a reality.
Moreover, there are approximately 5 million children who have an incarcerated parent, and in-person visitation space is essential for these young people to maintain space for family connections and well-being.
In California, the state’s jails have increasingly moved to adopt video visitation in lieu of in-person visitation. Recent estimates put California’s jail population at approximately 74,000. As such, removing in-person visitation has the potential to affect one of the state’s most vulnerable populations: the children of these incarcerated parents.
The mere thought of sex offenders going to a center in a Gainesville neighborhood for counseling was enough last month to make residents irate and send a city commissioner on a fact-finding mission. The concerns focused on the potential threat to children at the handful of daycare centers in the area of the new treatment site at 1208 NW Sixth St. But one key element has been overlooked in the controversy: The company at the heart of the dispute, The ITM Group, has been quietly treating sex offenders in Gainesville for decades. And according to police records, there are no reports of clients attacking neighbors. Experts say that’s not unusual, for a variety of reasons. For one, the vast majority — 80 percent — of sex offenders know their victims and don’t attack strangers. Also, sex offenders aren’t going to cause trouble where they are seeking treatment because they know they are being watched.
We have to build some very strong walls around our marriage to keep it from being inundated due to levee failure. Our word for today from the Word of God, Malachi 2:15, says this about God’s view of our marriages: “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Or the husband of your youth, for that matter. How can we do that? For starters, we can build five walls that to keep your marriage strong. Each marriage “levee” can be summed up in the form of five ironclad commitments that can protect your lifetime love. Continue reading “Storm Proof Your Marriage”
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch chairs the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, which works to identify the barriers to successful homecoming for “our formerly incarcerated family members,” as she said it on April 7, 2016.
The U.S. Justice Department, as part of its attempt to ease the transition from prison to homecoming, has designated the last week in April as National Reentry Week.
“From job fairs to family day, to father-daughter dances, to mock interview programs, all the ways in which we can provide the support so that our brothers, our sisters, our fathers and our mothers — so that when our fellow Americans leave these institutions, they can truly, truly find their way home,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said
I just got done writing this brief update for you and I look up from my laptop to see a beautiful young woman sitting next me in a comfy leather chair, hidden in the corner of this quaint little coffee shop. Her feet are propped up on a chair, crossed in a relaxed sort of way. In one hand she is holding down a page of a book that is nestled in her lap, while her other hand is laying across her growing belly, letting her baby know that no matter what, she is there and she cares deeply.