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5 ways to advocate for families instead of incarceration

Woman with sign reading, "Stop separating families"
Photo: Denver office / AFSC

This list was created by Lewis Webb, Jr., Kharon Benson, and Francis Adjei from their workshop, "Through their eyes, for their future: The impact of mass incarceration on children," at AFSC's 2017 Centennial summit. See this list and others from the summit online at afsc.org/5ways. Download this list as a PDF here.

  1. Share the Public Service Announcement you made in the workshop with your networks. Each PSA will be posted on the website of organizations fighting mass incarceration and advocating for more humane conditions of incarceration, including: Campaign to End the New Jim CrowLocked Up and Shipped AwayQuaker Network to End Mass IncarcerationFamilies United to Decarcerate Michigan.  
  2. Support efforts to make visitation easier like those led by Echoes of Incarceration and Strengthening Family Connections in California.  
  3. Engage with the following organizations that provide refuge and support to children with incarcerated parents: The Osborne AssociationRainbowsSesame StreetChildren of Incarcerated Parents Partnership
  4. Advocate for increased paths to release for those incarcerated. Find out what the bail system is like in your city/state; if deserving people get denied paroled; if your state continues to incarcerate the elderly and/or ill; if your state has life without the possibility of parole sentences. Join lobbying efforts to change these laws, post your thoughts on social media outlets, engage your families and friends in efforts towards change. 
  5. Challenge mechanisms that make it harder for families to reconnect when a loved one is released: Learn where your state stands on housing for the formerly incarcerated (public housing, public and private housing discrimination). What other barriers does you state impose on reconnecting families? What efforts do your meetings and communities of faith make to help post-release reintegration? Visit these websites to learn more about this important issue: The Sentencing ProjectHousing and ReentryThe Justice Center

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