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January 16, 2012

"Miss Wisconsin makes father's prison time a Miss America platform"

Miss am and dadThe title of this post is the headline of this CBS News report, which confirms yet again why I tell my students that every story that makes news has some kind of sentencing angle.   Here are excerpts from the piece explaining how sentencing now connects to our nation's biggest beauty pageant:

Making her father's prison sentence her platform for the Miss America pageant was a family decision, 23-year-old Laura Kaeppeler has said.

The Wisconsin beauty queen, who won the 2012 Miss America pageant, said she wanted children of incarcerated adults to feel less alone, to have mentoring and to pursue as much of a relationship with their parents as possible.  "There are many of you out there and I was one of them but it doesn't have to define you," Kaeppeler told The Associated Press after winning the crown and $50,000 scholarship on Saturday night.  More than 2 million U.S. children have a parent in jail, she estimated.

The brunette opera singer, who won the talent preliminaries, was 18 and just graduating from high school when her father started an 18-month sentence in federal prison for mail fraud.

Her father, Jeff Kaeppeler, said when his daughter approached the family about making the personal topic her chosen platform, they supported it even though they knew it would be discussed publicly.  "It taught us that God can turn anything into good if you let him," he said.  "Laura is totally on board with that idea.  She let that drive her and inspire her this past year to get ready for this."

This additional article about the new Miss America includes (along with lots of pictures) some notable quotes about her plans to make work on these issues part of her future career:

As the new Miss America, Miss Kaeppeler will spend the next year touring the country speaking to different groups and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network.  She said she planned to use the scholarship money to pursue a law degree and become a family attorney who specialises in helping children of incarcerated adults.

"I really feel like I've been called to work in this," she said.  "Whether I became Miss America or not, this is something that I would pursue in my career no matter what."

January 16, 2012 at 01:55 PM | Permalink


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Good for her!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 16, 2012 2:35:50 PM

This is fantastic!

Posted by: JS | Jan 16, 2012 3:30:15 PM

Two thumbs up to this lady for providing more visibility in this area....

Posted by: comment | Jan 16, 2012 6:12:04 PM

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the kids are far better off with the father in stir. Many dread the day of release if imminent. If Dad will be using dope and engaging in criminal activity in the home, no child can withstand that and function.

I understand we should promote family formation, and reduction of bastardy. However, the child is better off with an average step father. If the mother has a problem herself and cannot get an a regular spouse, the stepfather figure is 100 times more likely to murder the child than even the criminal biological father. Thank the feminist lawyer for the attack on the black family from all directions. Whites should not feel safe, it is coming after the white family and its greater assets in a big way as well,

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 17, 2012 4:04:43 AM

There are probably no statistics on this, but if every individual who has been imprisoned has one child, 9 million individuals can relate to her cause. My guess is that the number is closer to 20 million. It is a worthy cause.

Posted by: beth | Jan 17, 2012 1:54:29 PM

Wow, Supremacy Claus, if you have ANY data to validate that point, feel free to share it.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Jan 17, 2012 1:57:43 PM

This is an excellent start. We now need to keep the ball rolling. The more educated the people become on the inequalities and end results of our mass incarceration the less angry and punitive our countrymen and countrywomen will become. Hopefully Ms. Wisconsin will help greatly in that change.
Signed, A social science and justice studies student.

Posted by: Mary-Ellen Pecci | Jan 18, 2012 12:44:20 PM

Using Beth's figures (above) of 9 or 20 million children effected by parental incarceration, I have long wondered why there was NO concern about these children. The news media could present this side of the situation, but they choose not to. I believe many people would be interested, but instead the media continues to vilify anyone even accused of some crimes, especially sex crimes. The media has recently done some coverage of bullying. I wonder how they think that children of sex offenders get treated at school? And, they contribute to that.

Posted by: Dana | Jan 18, 2012 3:33:18 PM

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