Commentary

New year, new goal…

My podcast, One Mother’s Voice: In the Name of Justice , and this blog are part of my mission to explore and explain criminal justice news, trends, and issues for families of inmates.

Families and spouses oftentimes are the only lifelines for incarcerated men and women who often come from impoverished or troubled backgrounds

According to The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, “Prisoners and others involved in the criminal justice system are overwhelmingly poor, disproportionately non-white, and in over-all poor health.”

Drug use, domestic violence, mental health issues, low literacy, and economic instability are significant factors behind much of criminal behavior.

Likewise, research shows that one’s status (or lack, thereof) in society determines how harshly one is treated from arrest through sentencing.

Most families wander through court proceedings hopelessly in the dark about what is happening to their loved one or the reasons why.

However, they quickly learn that the criminal justice system isn’t designed to rehabilitate, to educate, or to salvage lives.

My son, Damon, spent half of his 35 years in New York State prisons; not surprisingly, I was ignorant of the criminal justice and correctional systems in the United States.

To be sure, he committed the crimes for which he was incarcerated; on the other hand,  he was charismatic, funny, family-loving, and ambitious.

I held onto the hope that these qualities would eventually help him find his way to a productive life,

Unfortunately, at age 35, he was found dead in his cell at Wende Correctional Facility.

Sadly, my involvement with the criminal justice system continues because two of my grandsons and a nephew are in prison or on parole. 

Hence, my determination to share my story about the collateral consequences of incarceration for our family.

Criminal justice reform is center stage in American politics today, but that could, and probably will, end in a few years.

Expanded outreach is the goal for 2020.

The mission:

“…provide ongoing support…accurate information about U.S. criminal justice policies and their effects on families and communities, and to promote activism as an antidote to hopelessness and helplessness.”

 

 

 

 

 

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