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April 27, 2007

The family values case for sentencing reform

Thanks to this post at CrimProf, I see that this article in Good Magazine highlights the strong family values argument that could (and should) be made for sentencing and prison reforms.  Here are snippets:

Nearly half a million women are married to men in prison. Maintaining these relationships involves a constant struggle with an often unsupportive penal system, despite growing evidence that a healthy marriage is one of the best tools for rehabilitation. Welcome to the intersection of prisons, love and politics....

In a national climate where the promotion of marriage is prioritized and new incarceration initiatives are being introduced across the country, the intersection of prisoners and matrimony appears to be a political blind spot. The wives of inmates are still largely without resources or assistance, grappling with often exorbitant phone rates, long distances to be travelled for visits, hypervigilant visitation rules, and restricted access to information about their husbands’ well-being. Right now, according to a report by a leading scholar named Creasie Finney Hairston, “The correctional policies and practices that govern contact between prisoners and their families often impede, rather than support, the maintenance of family ties.”

April 27, 2007 at 05:49 PM | Permalink


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I too am married to a prisoner and would never leave him for any one else. My husband is my best friend and a loving and wonderful husband and father of 11 years ago. Even in his situation, he basically is the one carry me through this ordeal as I am on the edge of a nervous breakdown. It is very expenseive as I still have to support his phone calls, commissary and even his court fines as they take the little money I manage to send each pay period. I still have to maintain my household and children. The 12 hours drive to visit is very costly and exhausting. I am surprise I am not dead from a stroke or heart attack because it takes a physical toll on your health. For the last four years, I have cried each and every day and the depression has taken me from a size 14 to size 8. The appeals are an emotional roller coaster because you cannot depend on justice in the courts. It's heartbreaking what the wives goes through waiting for someone they love to come home so they could finally get some help and normalcy. Only us know that our husbands doesn't deserve the fate handed down by a judge as the legal system does not care about us or our children. Young men are incarcerated for a life time without evidence and others can kill and come out in five years. Even though I am free, I am imprisoned with him and serving time mentally. The system does nothing to help the family or children. Our children' lives are impacted and they too will go astray without parental guidance due to constant working or being an emotional wreck. It is not easy to just move on with your life when you love and believe in someone. Our marriage is more loving and stronger than spouses who are free. My husband and I need each other for emotional support at this very difficult time in our marriage and I would never turn my back on him for the injustice in our courts.

Posted by: Welch | Apr 27, 2007 9:44:44 PM

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