Lullabies from Prison and Other Links

Let’s start with this.

“Bringing Mothers in Prison Closer to Their Children, Through Music”:

Mothers in prison rarely get to see their children, let alone touch them or sing them a lullaby. But female inmates in New York City are getting a little help with the singing, thanks to Carnegie Hall. For the last few years, Carnegie has sponsored the Lullaby Project, which pairs professional musicians with women in jails, homeless shelters and city hospitals, to help them write lullabies for their children.

more (via Ratty)

“‘No Hope for Me’: Women Stripped of Parental Rights After Minor Crimes”:

Five years ago, LaDonna Hopkins was caught stealing clothes from a store in Rock Island County, Illinois. She wasn’t stealing them to wear, but to sell on the street. Still in the grips of what would be an 11-year battle with crack cocaine, Hopkins had assessed her options, and theft seemed the lesser evil.

“When you’re in addiction, there’s only three things you can do,” she told RH Reality Check. “You can rob somebody, or you can prostitute, or you can steal.”

After she was caught, Hopkins was sentenced to five years in Dwight state prison. She was pregnant at the time. She eventually served five months inside, and an additional two-and-a-half years in a women’s treatment center. The penalty may seem severe for a non-violent crime spurred by drug dependency, but for Hopkins the true punishment was not the prison term, but rather the permanent loss of her parental rights to her daughter. …

Once parental rights are severed, they are all but impossible to restore, meaning that parents who were incarcerated for minor crimes can be left suffering the consequences for a lifetime, no matter how radically they transform their lives.

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“Solitary Confinement in Washington State”: I like the headline they used for the URL a lot more than the one they use on the page itself. Not that these guys are fluffy kittens but I mean the worst of the worst, almost by definition, are rarely in prison. They are in power.

When Bernie Warner started as a correctional counselor in the segregation unit of the Walla Walla State Penitentiary in Washington 35 years ago, the inmates he oversaw were considered lost causes. They were in solitary confinement because they were seen as the worst of the worst—irredeemable monsters with irrepressible violent tendencies that led officials to conclude it was too dangerous to keep them with the prison’s general population.

Today, Warner is the senior-most executive in the Washington state prison system. But he still remembers his days at Walla Walla, a period that he says instilled in him a belief that “how people are treated in the deepest end of the correctional system is what really defines it.” The experience inspired Warner to try to reinvent what segregation can be—an effort that in just a few years has produced one of the most humane approaches to solitary confinement in the country.

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And let’s pull this all together: “Meet Our Prisoners”:

…The resulting working papers provide not only data, but an almost literary glimpse into the life histories of incarcerated people, from childhood through prison and beyond. Here’s some of what we learn about the formerly incarcerated population from the Boston Reentry Study.

more–short and intense


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