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.
The United States has 5% of the world’s women, and 33% of its incarcerated women. Women’s imprisonment rose 700% nationally between 1980 and 2014, and women of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated. In response to this dramatic increase, the National Institute of Corrections and the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women worked to develop effective practices for women’s prisons through a Gender Informed Practice Assessment tool, known as GIPA.Read More
MARYSVILLE, Ohio — One-month-old Javon Jackson fidgets with his mom’s jacket as he drinks from his bottle and holds her hand. His mom coos. Her friends laugh, and a precocious, 2-year-old toddler stops by and waves hi. In all, it is a typical, upbeat moment for any mother and child — until prison officials tell [...]Read More
“Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Association’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”
“The isolation itself is torture. Mentally and emotionally, it breaks you down. Spiritually it strips you. The way it is built is to break you down as a person and push your family away.” From “Solitary at Southport” Solitary confinement is torture. New York State subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation [...]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