Mass Incarceration’s Collateral Damage: The Children Left Behind | The Nation
Steven Alexander was in sixth grade when his mother, Carmen
Demourelle, was sentenced to twelve years in prison for pickpocketing in
New Orleans’s French Quarter. Though she was held in a women’s prison
just an hour away, her four children could not telephone her and visited
only about once a year.
At the time of her arrest, Demourelle was working sporadically as a
beautician, though she was mainly making “fast money” by selling drugs
and picking pockets while her children were in school, she said. But
after school, she was an engaged and caring mother—until she was sent to
prison. “I missed everything about her,” Alexander recalled. “I wanted
All four of Demourelle’s children moved in with their grandmother,
who worked nights at a hospital. She supported them financially,
Alexander said, but their schoolwork suffered almost immediately without
their mother, who had been strict, especially about school. She hadn’t
allowed them to play outside or turn on the television until their
homework was done. She enforced early bedtimes. And the children were
not allowed to spend time with neighbors deemed troublemakers.
Soon after their mother’s sentencing, however, homework went undone,
forbidden friendships blossomed, and evenings at nightclubs became
common—even on school nights.
None of the children finished high school. Almost all struggled with
addiction. Steven’s older brother Stanton got into constant fights. His
little sister, Sandria, was taunted by classmates, who told her: “If
your mother loved you, she wouldn’t have gone to jail.” While in ninth
grade, Sandria became pregnant and dropped out. Even the oldest,
Stanley, an honor student, quit school as a senior after getting his
Steven stopped going to classes during the seventh grade. “I just wasn’t interested anymore,” he said.
read more ..... http://www.thenation.com/article/193121/mass-incarcerations-collateral-damage-children-left-behind
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Mass Incarceration’s Collateral Damage: The Children Left Behind | The Nation
Monday, December 15, 2014
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Saturday, December 13, 2014
The Denver Post
PRESCRIPTION KIDS: Read the Denver Post special report on use of psychotropic drugs in the Colorado foster care system.
A medical director would oversee the levels of mind-altering psychotropic drugs prescribed to children and teenagers in Colorado's foster care system and at the Division of Youth Corrections under a budget request submitted this week.
For the first time, the state child welfare department wants to hire a staff of medical professionals — headed by a physician — to monitor prescription medication use in youth corrections and the child welfare system, as well as other health issues. Officials have asked the legislature's Joint Budget Committee for $700,000 to hire a contracted doctor and four staff members, including two nurses.
Colorado is one of only 10 states without a medical director overseeing the foster care system.
Rising numbers of foster children nationwide are prescribed potent psychotropic medications because of behavioral problems, anxiety and depression, often brought on by trauma in their lives. Child advocates have called for fewer drugs and more therapy to treat the root cause of the children's behavioral problems.
Critics say that few studies have examined side effects on children and that heavy doses make kids seem detached and sedated.
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Thursday, December 04, 2014
From Ferguson to Staten Island, Justice and Accountability Are Nowhere in Sight
December 4, 2014
- By gabriel sayegh
In New York City yesterday, a grand jury failed to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island.
The grand jury decision isn’t just disappointing, it’s downright alarming.
Grand juries aren't supposed to find innocence or guilt - they're
supposed to decide whether there is enough evidence to accuse someone
and bring them to trial.
The killing of Eric Garner was caught on camera and the video went
viral. The coroner ruled the death a homicide. In the face of such
compelling, awful evidence, the Garner family and communities across the
country reasonably expected some accountability.
In refusing to indict the officer who choked Eric Garner to death,
the grand jury is saying the loss of Garner’s life doesn’t require even
the most basic inquiry and process of a trial. Once again, the deep
flaws with our broken criminal justice system are exposed.
Unfortunately, these flaws are found not only in New York City, but
across the country. Last week in Ferguson, MO, a different grand jury
refused to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.
From discredited stop-and-frisk practices, to the controversial “broken
windows” policing, to the indefensible racial disparities in drug law
enforcement, systemic racism – long a part of the failed war on drugs –
is clearly a standard feature in our criminal justice system.
Yet because this racism is about systems and not individuals, it
makes it harder for some people to see and understand. In her
bestselling book The New Jim Crow,
law professor, Michelle Alexander, popularized the concept of systemic
racism by outlining the long history of racial subjugation in the U.S.
and its modern manifestations, wherein policies, institutional practices
and politics combine to criminalize, stigmatize and devalue people of
Yesterday, my colleague Yolande Cadore wrote
about these connections from Ferguson, where she’s marching for justice
along with faith leaders from around the country. She wrote:
“Many may ask – what does the death of Michael
Black lives matter. And other than slavery and Jim Crow laws, no other
social policy has served to devalue Black lives more than America’s drug
In August, when nationwide protests erupted after the killing of Michael Brown, another DPA colleague, Sharda Sekaran, wrote about
how the war on drugs “fuels the underlying thread of judgment, stigma
and marginalization that permeates how we value human life and it
enables acts of violence.”
These connections are becoming ever-more apparent in the light of
these tragedies and the subsequent absence of accountability or justice
for those who have lost their lives. A recent report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement found that every 28 hours, a Black man is killed by police in the U.S.
Too often, those in power attempt to justify these killings by
engaging in character assassination of those who lost their lives.
Authorities will claim, for instance, that the person who was killed was
using drugs – both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were accused of
marijuana use, as if this somehow justifies a death sentence.
Eric Garner was accused of selling cigarettes, as if this somehow
justifies a death sentence. These vulgar efforts at character
assassination, coupled with the tired calls to "respect the process" in a
broken criminal justice system, represent petty attempts to obscure the
brutal, ugly reality of systemic racism. In the wake of this latest miscarriage of justice, there are again
calls for reform. The president has promised change, the Department of
Justice has launched an investigation into the Garner case, and elected
officials in New York have promised action.
What will make these promises and investigations lead to justice and
accountability? The pressure brought by peoples movements – like those
that are growing now across the country.
We know that Black lives matter, regardless of what a grand jury
concludes. We know that our country can do better – and we must.
In the midst of our frustration, despair, and anger, let’s redouble
our effort to build vibrant movements for real change, dismantle the New
Jim Crow, and advance justice, equity and human rights for all.
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Wednesday, December 03, 2014
We are very excited to share with you the launch of the Take Care Health Matters website. The website serves as a tool and resource to assist justice involved individuals access health care due to the new opportunities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This website is part of CCJRC’s larger health care access campaign, which we have been engaged in over the past year with our partners the Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP).
An estimated 70% - 90% of justice involved individuals in Colorado are currently uninsured. The ACA offers unprecedented opportunities to help connect these justice involved individuals with health care. Not only do we believe the ACA promotes alternatives to the overuse of the criminal justice system, but connecting justice involved individuals with health care has been shown to reduce recidivism and improve the health and lives of individuals. The ACA also provides an opportunity to treat mental health and addiction disorders as a public health issue, not a criminal issue.
We are hopeful this website serves as a resource to increase the number of justice involved individuals who are able to utilize and access health care services in Colorado.
Specific on the website you'll find:
- Video stories from both justice involved individuals and criminal justice staff sharing the importance of health care
- A research library highlighting the significance and impact the ACA can have on justice involved individuals
- Resources for justice involved individuals on who to contact to enroll in and access health care services, including behavioral health
- Recorded webinars for health care, criminal justice, and community members
- A professional guide geared towards health care, criminal justice, and community members to establish relationships and connect with one another
- How to find a health care provider
- And much, much more………
We are extremely grateful for our partnership with CCLP and all of you who have helped contribute to this project. While the ACA offers new strategies to reform the criminal justice system, we know there are challenges and gaps in health care services, particularly for mental health and substance abuse treatment. CCJRC will continue to engage in, monitor, and work to improve the ability for justice involved individuals to enroll in and access health care. As always, we appreciate your continued support as we work to end mass incarceration and promote healthcare as a human right.
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