Community

Almost all of our clients who are incarcerated are men; they leave behind wives, children, mothers, fathers and/or other family members. We support these families throughout the whole judicial process and during incarceration with understanding, counseling and legal assistance or refer them to other agencies if necessary on a case by case basis.  We help them deal with the stigmas and ostracism in their communities. We form bridges between them and their loved ones, reassure them as to the status of their family member and sometimes help to facilitate "Gets". We call our families weekly or monthly and support our families for as long as they need until they are back on their feet. 

 

 

  Understanding the Issue

  Effects on Families

·   Family members of incarcerated individuals are often referred to as "hidden victims".  They are victims of the criminal justice system who are neither acknowledged nor given a platform to be heard in the justice system. They receive little personal support and do not benefit from the systemic societal mechanisms generally available to direct crime victims, despite the similarities to direct crime victims.

 

·    There is less social support to cope with the stress associated with their partner’s imprisonment as friends and family and the community withdraw because of the stigma (Arditti 2003). The partner’s absence is not publicly mourned or socially validated. This can lead to exacerbated grief (Arditti 2003). 

 

·    Marital relationships are severely weakened when one partner is incarcerated. There are barriers to contact and communication in prisons. There are changes in roles that result from the men’s absence. The divorce rate among couples where one spouse is incarcerated for one year or more is 80 percent for men and close to 100 percent for women.

·         The loss of direct income can create a significant burden on struggling families, especially when it is combined with the additional costs associated with arrest and imprisonment, including attorney fees, collect calls from prison, and the expenses of traveling to the prison and providing material goods for the inmate (Arditti 2005). For single mothers, the stress of financial hardship has been linked with psychological distress. Many women have to go on public assistance as a result of their partner’s incarceration.

·         Parenting also may become more challenging because many children whose parents are imprisoned show elevated rates of social problems (Jose-Kampfner, 1995; Murray & Farrington, 2005).