mass incarceration

Captive Lives: Children of inmates face long odds of success

An estimated 10 million children in the U.S. have parents who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. According to “Shared Sentence,” arecent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child health and welfare organization, such children have a greater chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Their families are less likely to be financially stable and more likely to be homeless. At school, they are more likely to be suspended or expelled or drop out.

Many are byproducts of the country’s move toward tough-on-crime policies, which have helped swell the overall jail and prison population to 2.3 millionpeople, more than four times the total imprisoned in 1980.

For every incarcerated parent in San Francisco, there’s a child like Luna. Like Arvaughn Williams, 17, whose father was in and out of jail until he was shot and killed four years ago. Or Leila Soto, 17, who hasn’t seen her father since he was sent to prison when she was 4.

Yet the needs of children like these have been largely ignored. Government efforts to help them are scant. Unlike for children in poverty or English learners, there is no consistent funding designated to aid them.

Click here to learn more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

#ArtisticNoise: How Incarcerated Youth Are Making Their Voices Heard Through Art

At  Artistic Noise , young people in the justice system explore their creative potential and inherent power.  Dress of Dreams, Spectrum Detention , By Ana, Carmane, Felinesse, Jennifer, Kaillee, Kendall, Rosie, and Victoria.

At Artistic Noise, young people in the justice system explore their creative potential and inherent power. Dress of Dreams, Spectrum Detention, By Ana, Carmane, Felinesse, Jennifer, Kaillee, Kendall, Rosie, and Victoria.

In 2001, artist Lauren Adelman and juvenile defender Francine Sherman began offering art workshops to girls incarcerated at the Spectrum Detainment Center in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The goal was to empower these young women, so often unseen and unheard, through creative expression. 

Fifteen years later, this workshop has blossomed into what’s now known as Artistic Noise, a program designed to bring visual arts practice and entrepreneurial skills to young people who are incarcerated, on probation, or somehow involved in the justice system. An exhibition entitled “Infinite Revolution,” on view this summer, will celebrate the immense artistic talent of the individuals involved in the Artistic Noise community, and their bold spirits that refuse to be muffled. 

“So much of what we do and what we’re focused on is give kids who are often silent a way to have their voices heard and their stories told,” Adelman explained to The Huffington Post. “Whether they are physically removed from society or just don’t feel like they have a voice, through art they are making this visual noise.”

Since its inception, Artistic Noise has expanded to instruct both boys and girls in New York as well as Boston, using four distinct elements of programming embedded within the Artistic Noise umbrella. There are studio art workshops, in which young people in lock-up are engaged in long term artistic projects using unorthodox materials and techniques, often revolving around a single theme relevant to their lives. There are art therapy workshops, in which certified Art Therapists work with youth on probation in both individual and group settings, using creative expression to coax buried feelings and thoughts into the open under professional supervision. 

Detention was horrible,“ one artist explained in a video compilation made by Artistic Noise. “The food was horrible. Being in there, you’re like an animal caged in all day. You just get everything taken away. The only thing that kept me going was when Artistic Noise came in. That was the only thing I looked forward to doing.”

Click here for the full article on Huffington Post.

The US Robbed Itself of $87 Billion in 2014 By Not Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People

Dorsey Nunn shed tears of joy in his California office when President Barack Obama instructed federal employers to delay asking applicants about their criminal records in November. He shared that moment with other Americans who, like him, left a U.S. prison to find that bad policies made it easy for employers to discriminate against them because of their previous convictions.

Nunn is co-founder of All of Us or None, the reentry group that coined the phrase "ban the box," which refers to the question on an application that asks, "Have you ever been convicted by a court?" 

Read more: President Obama to Announce Executive Order Against Criminal Background Checks

"We're making progress," Nunn said in a phone interview from San Francisco. "But we're still only taking incremental steps, rather than seeing it as an entire community [of formerly incarcerated people] demanding their rights."

The country's mammoth criminal justice system disproportionately harms black people and is a drag on the economy, according to new analysis of the latest federal justice and labor statistics.

In 2014, prison-related policies also cost the U.S. economy as much as $87 billion in gross domestic product — the value of all goods produced and service provided by a nation in a given year — according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Authors of the center's report, released Thursday, reviewed Bureau of Justice Statistics data from 2014, when there were as many as 15.8 million people convicted of felonies who were of working age. Nearly 7 million of them were formerly incarcerated.

Policies allowing employers to unfairly weed out applicants who answer "yes" to the incarceration question amounted to a loss of about 1.9 million potentially qualified workers, according to the CEPR report. It reduced the overall employment rate by an entire percentage point. 

When it comes to race, the breakdown is even more grim. The CEPR report said black men who are formerly incarcerated suffered a 4.7 to 5.4 percentage point reduction in their employment rate in 2014. Latino men saw a reduction of as much as 1.6 percentage points, while the drop was up to 1.3 percentage points for white men. The jobless rate was as high as 6.7% in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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