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JS Blog Post July 23, 2014

That Morning Was Like Any Other Morning

Davian Reynolds

That morning was like any other morning. I awoke to the tattering of about one hundred cheerios filling a ceramic bowl, as my foster mother prepared my Barney sealed lunch box. I knew that it would be only minutes before I was called downstairs to eat my breakfast and get ready for school, but that morning I remember hearing something different. The echo of the doorbell lasted just about the time it took for hurried footsteps to reach the top of the carpeted staircase. The footsteps stopped in front of my door. “Davi,” whispered my foster mother. I was then asked to hide in a rather spacious closet in my foster mother’s bedroom. A new game, I presumed, given that I was never allowed to play in her closet before. What seemed like an hour passed by, and I remember thinking whoever was looking for me must have been really bad at “hide and go seek”. Finally, the door opened. My foster mother took my hand and guided me down the stairs. There, stood two people, a woman and a man, in all black suits. My hand was placed in an unfamiliar woman’s hand and she brought me outside to a black car. Read more »

JS Blog Post July 15, 2014

FREE HER Rally

Patricia Allard

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, the Families for Justice as Healing (http://justiceashealing.org) held a historic gathering, FREE HER Rally, on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The FREE HER rally and campaign was organized by women and others who support the ending of mass incarceration. The goals of the Free Her Rally were to "(1) raise awareness of the increase in the rate of incarceration of women in the United States and the impact on our children and communities, (2) Demand an end to voter disenfranchisement for people with felony convictions and (3) to ask President Obama to commute the sentences of women and men in the federal system who have applied for commutation." (http://justiceashealing.org/free-her-...)

Andrea James, the force behind Families for Justice as Healing and the organizer extraordinaire behind the Free Her Rally, closed the rally with a powerful call to action, asking participants to keep advocating for sentencing reform for parents who have minor children on the outside. Watch James' call to action.

JS Blog Post June 15, 2014

The Spark of Resistance Ignited

Tina Reynolds

Prior to my incarceration, I never thought of becoming an advocate.  I was subsumed by old emotions that prohibited me from taking action.  My inability to assert myself stemmed from a fear of what the repercussion might be from those in power. This fear kept me in my place, making myself as small and unnoticeable as possible.  This was my experience until my last bid (prison term).  I carried remnants of being small and in my place with me throughout my relationships - with my family who had assisted me with my children and with the various systems with which I had to interface.  While in prison even though I knew and had been told that what I was experiencing was wrong, I knew I wasn’t the only one experiencing this, and so, I relied on other women who I viewed as stronger than me to act.  Read more »

JS Blog Post May 29, 2014

Organize, Resist, and End shackling of pregnant women

Tina Reynolds

Beside raising my family and pursuing a career, changing policy is one of the greatest challenges I have pursued in the last twenty years as a formerly incarcerated mother.  Although it has been almost twenty years since I was shackled and handcuffed during transport to the hospital and during labor before giving birth to my son, Kai, the anti-shackling organizing efforts here in New York were by far the most rewarding for me. The reality of shackling incarcerated women during labor continues to baffle me.    Thankfully some headway has been made to end this oppressive and dehumanizing policy with approximately twenty states enforcing laws that prohibit some form of shackling of incarcerated pregnant women in the United States.  Yet, reproductive justice rights are practically nonexistent for incarcerated women in this country.  Ending shackling is the low hanging fruit policy effort to begin a conversation about reproductive justice rights for incarcerated women. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 20, 2014

Twenty Years After: Forgiveness

Tina Reynolds

To all of my fellow GEMS, this submission is for you.  Being a “good enough mom” (GEM) takes the pressures off of having to get everything right.  When I came home from prison, I was on a quest to gain some semblance of “normalcy” – find a job and make a home for me and my children. To accomplish this, I didn’t search within myself. I sought external activities; I became involved with various groups, community organizations, churches and colleges.

While on my “normalcy” quest, I became friends with a wonderful woman, Mildred. She got to know me quickly and could see that I struggled with trusting others, feeling safe and maintaining a sense of hope.  Mildred wisely told me that these characteristics did not come from my experience in prison, but rather they are deeply rooted in my past life experiences. Therefore, on my quest for “normalcy” after prison, along with my involvement in advocacy efforts, I began to unearth, understand and heal from my childhood trauma. Read more »

JS Blog Post May 9, 2014

Twenty Years After Prison - A Mother’s Thoughts

Tina Reynolds

In 1995, my youngest son and I walked out of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. What I know from the experience of raising my son in prison during the first year of his life is that he never knew he was in prison.  He never knew his mother had to stand for count, wear green every day, wear state shoes, ask for toilet paper or sanitary napkins, or to never be called by her first name.  He never knew that his mother had to suffer oppression, listen to relentless humiliations, or be treated without dignity by prison staff.   He never knew he lived in a building with other mothers who were incarcerated.  He never knew he lived in a nursery behind bars.  However, what I am sure of is my son knew he was loved. Read more »

Children of Incarcerated Parents: In the News

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News Article Colorlines September 12, 2013

LA County Sheriff Helps Deport Record Numbers of Immigrants

JS Publication May 6, 2009

Positive Trends and Best Practices in Criminal Justice Reform: A National Overview

This report reviews more than a decade of drug sentencing reform efforts in the states of Washington, Kansas, Michigan and New York. The positive impact of reducing reliance on incarceration in these states shows the way towards increasing opportunities for effective drug treatment, and safer, healthier communities. The report also includes a brief example of how Kansas produced a net savings to taxpayers of $7.5 million, from FY 2004 to FY2008, through reductions in prison population levels. Read more »

JS Publication February 27, 2009

Local Democracy on ICE: Why State and Local Governments Have No Business in Federal Immigration Law Enforcement

287(g) is a tiny provision in federal immigration law that allows Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take local police away from their mission of fighting crime, and pull them into the murky territory of targeting immigrants for arrest without suspicion of crime. ICE described the 287(g) program as a public safety measure to target “criminal illegal aliens,” but its largest impact has been on law-abiding immigrant communities. Rather than focusing on serious crime, police resources are spent targeting day-laborers, corn-vendors and people with broken tail-lights. Read more »

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