Helping Mothers and Children Stay Connected–During and After Prison: Bringing the Family Reunion Program to Albion
The Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) has begun the process of establishing a Family Reunion Program (FRP)–which allows incarcerated people to have extended, overnight visits with family–at Albion Correctional Facility, New York’s largest prison for women. Our Women in Prison Project, led by Director Tamar Kraft-Stolar, and its Coalition for Women Prisoners have long pressed for an FRP at Albion and, with the full support and efforts of DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer, helped secure an allocation of $200,000 for the program in this year’s state budget.
By establishing this program at Albion–located near Rochester, more than eight hours from New York City–DOCS will enhance the limited opportunities many mothers currently have to stay connected with their families. Visiting programs also provide an incentive for people to maintain good behavior while in prison and help reduce recidivism by assisting with the post-release reunification process.
Albion’s FRP will fill another critical role. New York’s Adoption and Safe Families Act almost always requires foster care agencies to terminate parental rights if a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months. One exception to this rule allows the agency to refrain from filing termination papers if it documents a “compelling reason” why termination would not be in the child’s best interest. Albion’s FRP will increase opportunities for mothers to strengthen relationships with their children and show foster care caseworkers that maintaining mother-child bonds is central to a child’s well-being. The FRP will thereby help incarcerated mothers with children in foster care reduce the risk of losing their parental rights forever.
As a follow up to the Correctional Association of New York's statement last month critical of reported plans by New York to severely limit the number of visits by family members to incarcerated loved ones in NY state prisons, in early March the CA wrote directly to Governor Andrew Cuomo to express its opposition to the plan.Read More
Victor Pate spent almost two years in solitary confinement in New York prisons, off and on. Once, he said, he was isolated for 90 days for having too many bed sheets in his room. Only two sheets were allowed per prisoner, but Pate was at his prison job when laundry pickup came, he said, so [...]Read More
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
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 [...]Read More