Families and Incarceration

Over half of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States are parents of children under age 18. More than 8.3 million children in the country have a parent under some form of criminal justice supervision.

Nearly 80,000 children have a parent in a New York prison – the majority of these children live in a handful of low-income communities of color in New York City.

Over half of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States are parents of children under age 18. More than 8.3 million children in the country have a parent under some form of criminal justice supervision.

Nearly 80,000 children have a parent in a New York prison – the majority of these children live in a handful of low-income communities of color in New York City. Most prisons, however, are located in rural, upstate communities, making visits difficult, especially for individuals with few economic resources. Approximately 73% of women and 58% of men incarcerated in New York are parents. Many have never had a visit with their children.

The large-scale social, emotional and economic disruption of families—particularly in low-income communities of color—is one of the most devastating consequences of mass incarceration.

Removing primary caretakers inflicts trauma on children, harms family structures, destabilizes communities, and places financial burdens on relatives who assume caretaking responsibilities and taxpayers who assume costs associated with foster care. In addition, incarcerated parents with children in foster care are at serious risk of losing parental rights to their children forever.

Like all young people, children of incarcerated parents need nurturing and support, and maintaining family ties helps them process their parent’s absence and reduce the trauma of separation. For incarcerated parents, staying connected with their children can motivate them to participate in prison programs, ease family reunification after release, and greatly reduce the likelihood that they will return to prison.

Through its Women in Prison Project (WIPP), the CA has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts aiming to support families separated by prison. In 2006, WIPP released When “Free” Means Losing Your Mother: the Collision of Child Welfare and the Impact of Incarceration on Women in New York State, about the devastating impact of criminal justice and child welfare policies on families separated by incarceration. In 2008, the CA helped secure funding for a Family Reunion program which provides overnight trailer visits at Albion Correctional Facility, the largest women’s prison in New York located near Rochester.

In 2010, the CA worked with allies to successfully advocate for a new law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act Expanded Discretion Law, that gives incarcerated mothers and fathers a more fair chance to protect their parental rights and avoid having legal bonds to their children severed forever.

Working with the Coalition for Women Prisoners, the CA is monitoring the new law’s implementation and continues to advocate for policy reforms that support families affected by prison.

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News | February 19, 2017

The Correctional Association of New York Firmly Opposes Efforts to Restrict Family Visits to People Incarcerated in New York State Prisons

(February 17, 2017, New York): The Correctional Association of New York (CA) firmly opposes a recent proposal in Governor Cuomo’s budget to restrict the number of days on which those incarcerated at maximum security prisons in New York can receive family visits. Read More

News | January 9, 2017

CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons January 9, 2017 (New York, NY): The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.Read More

News | December 28, 2016

Departing RTA Campaign Manager Angelo Pinto on Why – and How – New York State Must Raise the Age

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Angelo Pinto joined the CA’s Juvenile Justice Project in July 2012 to oversee our Raise the Age Campaign, which seeks to increase New York State’s age of criminal responsibility, end the practice of housing children in adult jails and prisons, and ensure that children in the justice system receive appropriate rehabilitative services. New York remains one of only two states, along with North Carolina, that still prosecutes and incarcerates 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. In this brief interview, as we approach a new legislative session in New York State and continued calls to Raise the Age, Angelo shares his insights, perspective, and advice on how the CA and our partners in this fight can most effectively advocate for this much-needed policy change.Read More

News | September 22, 2016

Board of the Correctional Association of New York Appoints Carlton S. Mitchell Interim Executive Director

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On September 22, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Correctional Association of New York announced the appointment of Carlton S. Mitchell as Interim Executive Director. He will start his duties in September 2016. Read More

News | December 22, 2015

CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION OF NY HAILS NEW LAW ENDING SHACKLING OF INCARCERATED WOMEN THROUGOUT ALL STAGES OF PREGNANCY

December 22, 2015, New York): Today, the Correctional Association of New York (CA), a leading opponent of the practice of shackling pregnant women who are incarcerated, roundly applauded Governor Cuomo for signing the 2015 Anti-Shackling Bill. It is considered to be the most progressive such legislation in the nation. The new law fortifies an existing 2009 ban against shackling during labor and delivery, and, most significantly, extends the law to include all stages of pregnancy.Read More

News | June 2, 2015

CA Launches Multimedia Project on Negative Impact of Youth Prosecuted as Adults in NY

(June 2, 2015, New York, NY) Today, as juvenile justice advocates from across New York State gather in Albany to launch a robust final push urging lawmakers to raise the age of criminal responsibility this legislative session, the Correctional Association of New York (CA) has released “Facing Time: Facing Future,” a multimedia project comprised of portraits, videos and personal testimonials that poignantly reflect the negative impact of prosecuting children as adults. Read More

News | March 11, 2015

“The kids aren’t all right”

n this timely and insightful piece in The Hill on March 11 by the CA's Gabrielle Horowitz-Prisco, Director of the Juvenile Justice Project, and Sarah Bryer, Director of the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), the authors lay out a cogent and fact-based case for why there needs to be significant change in our youth justice system.Read More

News | February 12, 2015

CA Releases 5-Year Study of Reproductive Health Care for Women in NYS Prisons

On February 12, 2015, the Women in Prison Project at the Correctional Association of New York (CA), the state’s oldest criminal justice reform organization, released a major report entitled, “Reproductive Injustice: The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State Prisons,” the most extensive study of reproductive health care in a state prison system to date, and one of the most in-depth studies of conditions for women in prison in the country.Read More

News | October 21, 2014

VOICES FROM ATTICA

“Voices from Attica” – a compilation of twelve powerful narratives of people incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility in 2014 – paints a picture of endemic staff violence and abuse at this infamous prison. The prison walls are designed not only to keep incarcerated people in, but also to keep the public out.Read More

News | June 13, 2014

LEGISLATURE APPROVES BILL TO IMPROVE FAMILY VISITING PROGRAM IN PRISON

Albany, NY: Final legislative approval was given today to the Family Visitation Bill (S.1413/A.4606), a criminal justice measure that seeks to strengthen family ties among New Yorkers who are incarcerated and their loved ones on the “outside.” The legislation, sponsored by NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblymember Gabriela Rosa (D-Manhattan), requires the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to establish and maintain a public website and dedicated toll-free telephone line to provide up-to-date information regarding specific visitation rules and regulations for all individual correctional facilities throughout the state. Read More

CA in the Press | February 19, 2017

Petition: Cuomo’s plan to reduce visitation at NY maximum security prisons ‘cruel’

A petition has been signed by more than 2,100 people opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to reduce visitation at New York’s 17 maximum security correctional facilities. As of Saturday afternoon, there are 2,102 supporters of the petition titled “Don’t Restrict Visits in NYS Prisons!” The petition calls the governor’s plan to alter the visitation policy “regressive, counterproductive and cruel.” The initial goal for the petition is 2,500 supporters.Read More

CA in the Press | January 26, 2017

Cuomo wants to cut visitation, positions at Auburn, other NY maximum security prisons

Photo: Auburn Citizen A proposal in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017-18 executive budget would reduce the visitation schedule at New York’s 17 maximum security correctional facilities and result in the elimination of 39 positions. Under the governor’s plan, the number of days visitors are allowed at maximum security prisons would be reduced from seven to three.Read More

CA in the Press | January 26, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Cuomo proposes reduction in visitation days for inmates at state’s maximum security prisons

ALBANY – Inmates at the state’s maximum security prisons are facing fewer visits from people on the outside under a proposal by Gov. Cuomo. Cuomo in his budget plan unveiled last week tucked in a plan to reduce the number of days in which visits are allowed at maximum-security state prisons to three days a week, down from seven.Read More

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CA in the Press | January 24, 2017

Fighting for Freedom

Christina Wall spent 19 months at Riverside Correctional Facility for a first-degree felony. While she was in prison, she met with many different organizations that promised to help her re-enter society when she’d done her time. When she got out in June of 2015, Wall, a first-time inmate originally from New Jersey, tried to get in contact with all of these groups.Read More

CA in the Press | January 3, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Alleviating the Pain When a Parent Is in Jail

To the Editor: Re “Serving as a Role Model During a Father’s Absence” (The Neediest Cases, Dec. 21): It’s nice to see young Jaylen benefit from the MentorCHIP program. But children whose parents are incarcerated need regular visits with their parents. Studies show that children’s emotional, scholastic and social adjustment improve when they have regularly scheduled visits to alleviate the pain of losing a parent.Read More

CA in the Press | November 25, 2016

For Women, a Cheaper, Better Alternative to Prison

Here’s a riddle: Would you rather pay $10 dollars, one time, or $11, repeatedly, for the rest of your life? Anessa Rabbit (photo: Andrea Morales for the NYT) If you chose the first option, you acted logically. If you chose the second option, you acted the way the United States government acts when it imprisons female drug addicts.Read More

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CA in the Press | May 25, 2016

Should Domestic Violence Victims Go To Prison For Killing Their Abusers?

photo credit: Melissa Jeltsen NEW YORK — LadyKathryn Williams-Julien’s first childhood memory is of her father punching her mother in the face. She was 6. Her mother fell to the ground, where Williams-Julien was already cowering. They were eye-to-eye, mother and child, both trembling with fear. “Her whole face was covered with blood,” she said quietly, sitting at the kitchen table in her apartment in the Bronx.Read More

CA in the Press | May 13, 2016

The Mothers Who Lost Their Children To Prisons

“I just want to start from, I guess, what happened at the end,” Alicia Barraza said softly into the microphone. “On October 30 of 2014, we lost our 21-year-old son when he took his own life at Fishkill Correctional Facility.”Standing at thepodium of a press conference at the state capital in Albany, NY, just two days after Mother’s Day, Barraza said that she believed New York’s practice of charging teenagers as adults helped lead to her son’s death.Read More

CA in the Press | May 11, 2016

VIDEO:Moms rally to ‘Raise the Age’ of adult prosecution

ALBANY – New York and North Carolina are the only two states where 16 year olds can be tried as adults. A group of moms want to change that. The moms rallied at the state Capitol on Tuesday as part of the “Raise the Age” campaign. They say studies show teens prosecuted as kids are more likely to stay out of trouble as adults, while those prosecuted as adults are more likely to commit new crimes.Read More

CA in the Press | May 11, 2016

VIDEO: Mothers asking lawmakers to “Raise the Age”

ALBANY–A group of mothers from across the Empire State met in Albany Tuesday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other lawmakers to raise the age at which children can be tried as an adult. They argue it’s a matter of protecting children. “We protect them in so many other ways, with respect to when we allow them to drive, when we allow them to swim by themselves in a public swimming pool, when we allow them to smoke cigarettes, when we allow them to vote, when we allow them to be drafted or go fight in a war, but the one place we don’t protect them is when it comes to the criminal justice system,” said Soffiyah Elijah.Read More

Organizational Materials

Women in Prison Project (WIPP) Brochure

Under unique statutory authority granted to the CA in 1846, WIPP monitors conditions in women’s prisons in New York, a role played by no other group in the country. WIPP coordinates the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 people, and carries out advocacy campaigns to reform harmful criminal justice policies.Read More

Advocacy Tools Video

Ending the barbaric practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women

Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant to cover at least the duration of a woman’s stay at the hospital. Read More

Testimonies

NYS Public Protection Committee Budget Hearing: February 6, 2013

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The Correctional Association testified about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 proposed budget for public protection, focusing on his proposal to close two women’s prisons, Bayview and Beacon Correctional Facilities. Our testimony expresses the concern that closing Bayview and Beacon Correctional Facilities will eliminate some of the most effective opportunities incarcerated women have to maintain family ties and prepare for a successful reentry.Read More

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Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Summer 2012

In this issue; The Close to Home Initiative: youth leaders speak out; The Prison Rape Elimination Act; Welcome to CA’s new staff and board membersRead More

Video

Senator Declares “Desperate Need for DVSJA”

Crime After Crime

Legislators respond to the award-winning film "Crime After Crime" and encourage advocates to act in support of the DVSJA. Read More

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Senator Declares “Desperate Need for DVSJA”

On January 19th at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, legislators and advocates viewed Crime After Crime. The co-sponsors of the DVSJA gave inspiring speeches and encouraged advocates to act now. Jesenia Santana from STEPS to End Family Violence explained how to get involved in the DVSJA Campaign and the real need for the proposed legislation.Read More

Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Fall 2010

In this issue; A Fair Chance for Families Separated by Prison; 1844 Medal and Art for Justice Benefit; Spotlight on Juvenile Justice ProjectRead More

Slideshows

A Fair Chance

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A slideshow created by James Trory (http://www.jamestrory.com ) and the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York about families separated by prison.Read More

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Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Winter 2010

In this issue; Crisis in the Juvenile Prisons; CA 2010 Policy Agenda; Drop the Rock Advocacy DayRead More

Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Fall 2009

In this issue; Unshackling pregnant women; Major prison healthcare victory; New direction for Drop the RockRead More