FCC Rules on Interstate Collect Telephone Calls: Recently, we advised Middle Grounders of our work to help influence the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to place a cap on interstate collect telephone calls from prisons. The FCC did rule that a cap on the profits that private telephone companies make is appropriate. Now, we are working with other groups to affect in-state collect telephone rates as well. As you might expect, Securus and other providers are aggressively opposing all attempts to limit their profits (off the backs of families and loved ones of prisoners), but we will continue to press this issue. We will keep everyone informed. Right now, rates will only be reduced for interstate collect calls.
Can The Dept. of Corrections Require A Free-World Person To Be On An Inmate's Visitation List In Order to Marry An Inmate? No, the Department's policy does not require a person to be on an inmate's visitaiton list in order to enter the prison for the brief time frame that is required to conduct a marriage ceremony. In fact, there is case law to support the proposition that even if a former visitor is suspended from visitation for a rule infraction, that person still must be admitted to the prison for the sole, brief purpose of being allowed to marry an inmate. We suspect that some inmates have been denied the right -- yes, marriage is a right, even for inmates -- because they were told that their prospective spouse wasn't on their visitation list or was already on someone elses' (such as a son or daughter's) list. In reviewing the Arizona DOC's policy on inmate marriages, we believe that the policy incorrectly denies marriage to a prisoner in disciplinary lock-down. It would have to be legally challenged in order to require the DOC to remove that provision in their policy, and the challenge would be expensive because it could involve an appeal.
PATERNITY TESTING & INFORMATION: Prisoners who wish to establish paternity of a child while imprisoned should write to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Division of Child Support Enforcement, Customer Service, P. O. Box 40458, Phoenix, Arizona 85067. If you have a family member outside to assist you, the phone number is (602) 252-4045 or (800) 882-4151. You will need to request an APPLICATION For IV-D Services/GENETIC TESTING AGREEMENT. Ultimately, you will need a valid court order signed by a Judge and a lab test will be conducted. Keep in mind that if you establish paternity, you will be required/ordered to pay child support. Child support is not normally set aside for anyone in prison; the debt you owe continues to mount while you are in prison (with interest). You will need to provide the Mother's name, birthdate and complete address. DES will not conduct an investigation to locate the Mother if her whereabouts are unknown to the prisoner.
If someone who was a sexual partner with a prisoner wishes to attempt to establish paternity, that person will follow the same application guidelines listed above. The court order will be required to contain the Inmate's name and DOC # and his date of birth. The Court Order must state, "ADC shall perform the taking of the necessary physical sample . . ." All Court Orders for paternity testing must be submitted through an Arizona Court. A Case Number will be assigned by the Court. The Court Order must be signed by a Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Arizona. The laboratory contracted to perform the paternity test, when notified by DES, will e-mail a copy of the signed Arizona Court Order to the ADOC and they will begin the process of collecting the "necessary physical sample."
After verifying that the information obtained in the Court Order is accurate, the DOC will forward the collection request to the inmate's current housing facility. The facility is supposed to collect and return a same within 30 days from the date that the Central Office forwards the request. If the inmate is housed out-of-state or is "off site" for some reason, the collection period will take longer. The inmate will be scheduled for an appointment for the collection to be taken at the Health Unit.
Each inmate should ask the collection staff person what chain-of-evidence procedures will be utilized and should insure, to the best of his ability, that appropriate, secure procedures are followed, including watching the sealing of the test sample after it is taken from the prospective father.
VISITATION FACTS: DID YOU KNOW? When filling out visitation forms to become a visitor to a prisoner within the Arizona Department of Corrections, you are NOT required to supply your social security number to prison authorities unless there is a "legal basis" to do so. (See United States Code, Title 42, Chapter 7). If you read the fne print on the visitation application, the provision of social security numbers is optional, and your visitation processing may not be delayed or withheld due to your decision not to provide your social security number. We strongly recommend that you not provide your social security number to any person within the Department of Corrections. Should any visitor or family member be confronted with a demand from any agent of the Department of Corrections or a jail to provide a social security number, please refuse to do so and contact us at once with precise details (name of employee, circumstances, date, location, etc.).
Also, we strongly disagree with the ADOC's visitation form which asks an applicant for visitation to list his/her employer, job title and employment contact information. This is an invasion of your privacy as a visitor and the Department of Corrections has no reasonable, penological need to know for whom you work or your job title. We suggest that you list "unemployed" or "none" in that section. There is no legal authority in the state of Arizona for the Department to obtain that information from you and we can assure you that the Department will not use the information in a helpful way -- such as, to call you at work in the event of a serious injury or incident with your loved one in prison. Although the form requires you to sign at the bottom attesting to the "truthfulness" of your application, we believe this is one section of the application where it is acceptable to provide less than requested facts. This requested information is a gross invasion of privacy and, in some cases, it might be harmful for the Arizona Department of Corrections to know where you are employed. We leave the decision about whether to provide this information to each individual visitor.
Also, keep in mind that NO EMPLOYEE OR AGENT OF THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IS AUTHORIZED TO INTERVIEW YOU OR DEMAND EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION FROM ANY VISITOR. You are required to provide your legal name, birth date, address and home/personal telephone only, as well as to answer the additional questions about criminal history and other relatives within the DOC, if applicable. (Note: It should also be noted that we disagree with the Department's coercive tactics to obtain personal and intrusive information from prisoners when they first enter the prison system. Prisoners are "required" (advised they are required to fill out forms that will result in denial of visitation if they refuse) to provide information including the names, addresses, relationships, etc. about all their immediate family members, even if they have no contact with them. This includes Aunts, Uncles, cousins, etc. Again, this is highly intrusive, an invasion of the privacy of the relative of the prisoner, and is not required by any state law in Arizona. It provides prison officials with too much information about a prisoner's family and contact information. Prisoners should not provide such information, and we believe that a prisoner should challenge in the courts the "requirement" that it be provided regarding people that the prisoner has no intention of requesting to be placed on his/her visitation list. For example, the prisoner is not "required" to list his friends or employers, and yet a prisoner may potentially have only his friends or employers or neighbors as visitors and have no family members who intend to visit at all. Prisoners can receive mail (incoming and outgoing) to any person to whom they wish to write, so not providing family information would not affect mail communication in any manner.
In addition to the above information, please remember to photocopy ALL of the information you submit to the Department of Corrections, including a copy of the actual visitation application form (all pages). The DOC has a very consistent habit of "losing" or "misplacing" visitation forms, and the prospective visitor is always the one that is asked to submit a new form -- which means the process has to begin from the start because the visitor who hasn't photocopied his/her information cannot prove that it was ever submitted in the first place. As added insurance, we suggest that the visitation form and any supplemental information be mailed via CERTIFIED MAIL/RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED. This method insures that you can prove the date when your information was received by the Department. In fact, all important documents or information dealing with any aspect of the prison or jail system should be photocopied before you submit them, and mailed by CERTIFIED mail.
It is worth the extra time and expense!!
Finally, if any person has difficulties with this procedure on visitation applications or is informed by the DOC that the person "must" provide a social security number in order to be approved as a visitor, please call us at once. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. At the present time, you can access an application for visitation at the DOC official web site, but you have to download it to sign it and mail it to the prison where the prisoner you wish to visit is housed.
See our "News/Rumor Control" page for telephone numbers to various Maricopa County Jail facilities which will provide recorded information about jail visitation access. The information on the recorded messages is purportedly updated on a daily basis and will provide information such as when the jails are on lock- down status (no visitation allowed, etc.)
Question: I am the spouse of a man who has been in prison for many years. I will be age 62 soon and am wondering if I will be able to draw Social Security benefits based on his work record?
Response: Generally, a person must have worked and paid social security taxes for 40 quarters (10 years total) in order to be eligible to be paid social security benefits upon retirement. so, IF you have been legally married to him for at least ten (10) years AND if your husband worked and paid social security taxes for at least ten (10) years prior to his incarceration, you can file to collect benefits based on his work record when HE reaches retirement age. However, your husband will not be eligible to receive any of the money because benefits are not paid for the months that a person is serving a jail or prison sentence. It could be even more complicated. You need to read the information entitled, "WHAT PRISONERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY," which is available at: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10133.html
What happens to a child when a parent goes to prison? The child no doubt deals with stress, ridicule, anger and fear. However, each child is different and each family or caregiver handles the situation in a different manner. Often, the child goes to live with a family member. Some children go into the foster care system. Sometimes, the child is never informed that his parent is in prison. Sometimes the child is told that the parent "left" home or is attending school in another state. Caregiver's Choice does require that the child who receives a trained mentor DOES KNOW that his/her parent is in prison. Why? Because part of the service provided by the mentor is the willingness/ability to be an objective/supportive ear for the child to discuss fears, anger, and the struggle of having a parent in prison. When a child spends time with a mentor, it can also open up some free time for the child's caregiver or unincarcerated parent.
The way the program works is that each agency who matches up a mentor with a child will receive $1,000/child. The payment is spread out over the year. No money is paid to the mentor. No money is paid to the child. The agency keeps the money for administrative/training/outreach and recruitment purposes.
The child who wants a mentor must be between the ages of 4 -18. The parent (or one parent) must be incarcerated in a STATE or FEDERAL prison. County jail facilities do NOT count. At the present time, the funding agency has mandated only two areas of measurement for "outcomes" for the program: 1. Did the mentor and the child meet at least one (1) hour/week? (2) Did the mentor and the child meet each week over the span of one (1) year? No other performance or evaluation criteria are mandated!
TO APPLY FOR CAREGIVER'S CHOICE:
1. Call 877-333-2464 or visit the web site: http://www.mentoring.org/caregivers choice. Fill out the form. You can also provide information to fill out the form via telephone.
2. Caregiver's will provide a list of programs in your area that provide qualified mentors. Some of these are religious programs and some are not. Be sure to ask about their religious viewpoints and how much of the viewpoint will be expressed to the child by a mentor. Ask the CHILD which type of program he/she prefers. The caregiver will receive a VOUCHER which they will take to the program that best fits the needs of their child.
3. Once you've picked a program or programs that you may be interested in for the child you care for, call them to set up a time to meet with the staff. Ask questions about how they will match a mentor with your child. The funding for this program requires that the mentor spend a minimum of ONE HOUR PER WEEK over a period of at least ONE YEAR with the assigned child. If you are more comfortable with leaving your child alone with a mentor in a public setting, arrange to have the mentor meet the child at a public place. Schools might cooperate, but remember that they are not open throughout the entire year.
Matching your child with a mentor might take a month or more. According to most agencies, they have far more needy children than they have available mentors. If you wish to volunteer to be a mentor, ask the specific agency because each agency has different requirements. Most of them place restrictions on potential mentors who may have felony records.
Keep in mind that this program is only funded for one year. So, if your child makes friends with or comes to rely upon his/her relationship with a mentor, that person may or may not be available beyond the one-year funding mandate for the program. Some religious groups may try very hard to spell out a particular religious philosophy for the child to use to deal with the pain of having a parent who is incarcerated, or to guide the child to lead a different life than the one his parent has led. Other issues may arise.
It is important to note that Middle Ground Prison Reform does not endorse or recommend Caregiver's Choice or any of the programs that operate under it to serve children of incarcerated parents. The above content if provided for information purposes only. Each caregiver must make his/her own decisions about what is best for the child in his care.
Information added: March 11, 2008
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH ABOVE INFORMATION: If you are one of the estimated 570,000 people in Arizona (of course, not all of them are family members of prisoners) providing unpaid services to family members (but including care of a child whose parent is incarcerated) and could use a little support, there is help on the Web. For national information go to: www.caregiver.org. This site offers information, advice and personal stories, as well as legal issues and demographics. For more localized information pertaining to Arizona, go to www.azcaregiver.org, which features information about future conferences and resources for caregivers listed by county in Arizona.
This information is not connected to or affiliated with the information about "Caregiver's Choice" which is listed in red lettering above.
HERE IS A REPORT CARD FOR PARENTS (TO BE FILLED OUT HONESTLY AND CANDIDLY BY YOUR CHILDREN):
If you dare, download the below questions and ask each of your school-age children to fill out one of the "report cards" for each parent, using a scoring system similar to what the schools use on a report card. Your child is to grade you A, B, C, D (or even F) on the following questions.
1. TELL YOUR CHILD YOU WANT HIM TO BE HONEST.
2. SET A TIME FOR YOUR CHILD TO FILL OUT THE "REPORT CARD" PRIVATELY -- AWAY FROM YOU.
3. HAVE YOUR CHILD EXPLAIN HIS GRADES FOR YOU. DO NOT DEFEND YOURSELF! ASK ONLY TWO QUESTIONS: (1) CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT WHY I GOT THIS GRADE? (2) HOW CAN I IMPROVE?
4. TELL YOUR CHILD "THANK YOU," AND GIVE HIM A HUG FOR BEING HONEST.
5. DON'T DISCUSS THE REPORT AGAIN FOR AT LEAST 72 HOURS. THIS IS YOUR "COOL DOWN" TIME FOR GETTING A PERSPECTIVE ON THE FEEDBACK YOUR CHILD HAS GIVEN.
6. IMPLEMENT ANY CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE TO BE A BETTER PARENT. GOOD LUCK!
For each item, the child is to "grade" the parent for the last month, using a grade of A, B, C, D, or F.
1. Helps me with my homework when I ask.
2. Understands my feelings.
3. Gives me hugs.
4. Tells me he or she loves me.
5. Lets me act my age.
6. Is nice to my friends.
7. Helps me feel my best.
8. Watches TV with me.
9. Listens to my problems.
10. Tries to explain things to me.
11. Doesn't scream at me when angry.
12. Lets me know they are thinking about me.
13. Spends time with me alone.
14. Makes me laugh.
15. Plans special family time.
16. Lets me make my own decisions.
17. Helps me get up when I oversleep.
18. Treats all the kids in the family fairly.
19. Answers my questions about my body.
20. Is understanding about poor grades.
Source: Family Resource Center/promoting strong families & safe kids (2008)
SPEAKING OF REPORT CARDS:
When you child brings home his/her report card, here are some tips:
1. Sit down with the child and look over the report card together.
2. Praise your child. Find at least one good thing, such as attendance or lack or tardiness.
3. Be calm! Let the child tell you about any poor grades.
4. Ask the child how he/she thinks you can help him do better.
5. Ask the child how you can help to make better grades .
6. Make a Plan (and stick to it) with your child's teacher to help your child do better. Yes, this will
mean you will have to take the time to meet with the teacher in person (or, at the very least, have a telephone conversation). Approach the plan
with the teacher from a problem-solving perspective and not in an accusatory manner. Make sure the teacher knows that your ultimate interest
is in making sure your child performs to the best of his ability in his classroom studies.
Source: Family Resource Center (2008)
PREGNANT AND IN JAIL OR PRISON? Being in prison or jail does not mean that a woman loses her right to decide whether to continue the pregnancy or have an abortion. Your constitutional rights are being violated if you are told by prison or jail officials that:
1. You must have an abortion you do not want.
2. You are not allowed to have an abortion that you do want.
3. You must get a court order before getting an abortion.
4. You must pay for prenatal care or an abortion with your own money, regardless of your financial situation.
5. You must pay for the costs of the jail or prison transporting you to a clinic or hospital to get prenatal care or to have an abortion.
If any of the above things happen to you, you should:
1. Ask yourself if it is just one particular nurse or guard who's giving you a hard time. If it is, then ask other medical staff or officials to help you (obtain the name of the nurse or guard who is giving you false info).
2. Document everything that happens in writing. Put your request for an abortion or other medical/prenatal care in writing and keep a copy. Also, keep a list of all the people you've spoken to or contacted, along with dates, times, phone numbers or addresses, etc.
3. In addition to your request for medical care, you should also file a grievance (an official complaint). If your grievance is denied or rejected, you must file an appeal. It is extremely important that you file all appeals that are allowed within the jail or prison's grievance system. It is also extremely important that you follow all the rules and deadlines of the grievance system. These rules and deadlines are usually written in an inmate "handbook" or in a policy that is sometimes hung on a bulletin board or available in an inmate "resource" library. If jail/prison officials refuse to give you a grievance form or will not let you file or appeal a grievance, or if they are in any way trying to interfere with your use of the grievance system, you can immediately contact your own lawyer (including if the lawyer is a public defender) or contact a lawyer at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
(The above information is provided by the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project)
If you want information about any physician licensed to practice medicine in Arizona (yes, prison doctors have to be licensed to practice) type into your search engine: Arizona Board of Medical Examiners, and look for the section on board disciplinary actions. You can search for a doctor by name, license number or field of practice and location. There is a section called "Consumer Center," which provides downloadable complaint forms. HOWEVER, keep in mind that due to medical privacy laws, you can't complain about a physician who treats a family member or loved one in prison. And the prisoner must follow prison medical grievance guidelines before he/she can complain. Also, keep in mind that MANY "doctors" who treat prisoners are not doctors at all (M.D.'s). Instead, they are physician's assistants, who are not going to be listed at this site. Any prisoner who is receiving care for a serious or potentially serious medical problem should ALWAYS obtain (in a friendly, non-confrontational or accusatory manner) the name of the person treating him.
MEDICAL RECORDS INFORMATION: IF YOU ARE REQUESTING MEDICAL RECORDS ON AN INMATE FROM THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS OR ONE OF THEIR CONTRACTED MEDICAL PROVIDERS:
You can expect (and should ask for):
Histories and Medical exams
Chronic care worksheets
Medical Progress Notes
Hospital visits and consultations, along with treatment recommendations
Lab tests and results
X-ray tests and results
Other testing (such as EKG, MRI, etc.) and results
Medicine sheets (make sure they are up-to-date)
Psychological medications given
Duty stat sheets (when an inmate is off work due to medical problems)
HNR (Health Needs Request Forms) submitted by the inmate (should include the written responses by the Medical staffings
Mental Health Progress Notes (should include info on TESTING, consultations, evaluations, medication administered).
All Dental Records
INTAKE MMPI testing (this is often taken out of the inmate's medical/psychological file and placed in the "Institutional File," so you have to request all medical/psychological information from the Institutional, Master Record and ALL files maintained by the Department of Corrections and sub-contractors).
You will be charged $.25/page for each page that you purchase. You do not have to purchase the entire file, as the Department will lead you to believe when you initially contact them to request medical records. You can insist on examining the records in person and then specifically choosing which records you will actually agree to pay for.
In order to receive any medical/psychological records, you must FIRST obtain from the inmate a witnessed "Medical Information Release Authorization Form". A Power of Attorney is not sufficient and will not be accepted/recognized by the Department.
FACTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FAMILIES OF PRISONERS
* 2 million children in the USA have an incarcerated parent; this represents an increase of 50% since 1990
* Approximately 10 million children in the USA have a parent who has been imprisoned or under criminal justice supervision at some point in their lives
* Children whose parents are in prison are many more times more likely to be incarcerated someday in the future than their peers
* Over half of incarcerated parents expect to live with their children upon release, yet few receive visits
* Many children have very unstable living arrangements while a parent is incarcerated
* Most children of incarcerated mothers live with relatives; most children of incarcerated fathers live with their biological mother
* There is no evidence that prison/jail visitation, when appropriate, is harmful to children. In fact, it has been demonstrated to reduce the trauma associated with separation
* Frequent visitation is essential to successful parent-child reunification following a parent's release from jail or prison
* The main barriers to visitation are (1) Distance; (2) Lack of Transportation; (3) Visits prohibited or not facilitated by the child's caretaker or conflict with the caregiver's schedule; (4) prison policies; DES practices and/or resources
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF PARENTAL INCARCERATION ON CHILDREN?
* May children begin to have school-related problems
* Many children experience severe anxiety or depression
* Many children experience loss of financial support (resulting in change of address and other important circumstances)
* Children may experience delayed development and behavior and attention disorders
* Children may struggle with developing secure attachments and have poor coping skills as adults
* Many of the responses to parental absence due to incarceration can be predictors of later criminal behavior
* Poor parenting skills and parental criminal behavior are two of the strongest predictors of children's criminal conduct
Little Known Information
* Many children in foster care have a parent or caregiver who is a convicted felon* Many persons currently or formerly incarcerated were in foster care as children
* Arizona doesn't release statistics about the number of children who are adopted due to parental severance during incarceration
* There is a significant relationship between child maltreatment and future criminality
* Some of the signs of "budding criminal offenders" are: early onset of delinquency and more frequent episodes of criminal behavior
* There are distinct patterns which are noticed in criminal-justice involved families. They include:
higher rates of neglect; lower severity of physical abuse, higher rates of termination of parental rights; higher levels of physical abuse after release from prison.
For Police Agencies:
1. Ask about children at the time of arrest and verify a "safety" plan
2. Make officer awareness of impact of parental arrest on children a PRIORITY
3. Train officers to minimize risk and trauma to children during arrest procedures
For Judicial Officers:
1. Training is needed for an awareness of the impact of parental incarceration on children and other family members
2. Familiarity training for available alternative sanctions
3. When appropriate, issue court order that a child or children be allowed to visit parent in prison
4. Awareness of court rules and case law involving attendance of incarcerated parents at juvenile or other court hearings. Willingness to issue timely orders or to facilitate telephonic hearing attendance.5. Development of reasonable efforts protocols by presiding judges in all counties
For Jail Administrators:
1. Jail booking procedures that include questions about current location and circumstances of children
2.. Re-evaluate jail/prison policies on non-contact visitation as it affects children
3. Develop policies that lessen trauma to child by allowing appropriate contact with incarcerated parent (including sitting on lap or hugs)
4. Provide prisoner access to parenting education classes and information about available community resources
For Prison Administrators:
1. See Item # 2 above
2. See Item # 3 above
3. See Item #4 above
4. Adequately prepare offenders for transition back into the family and the community, including preparation for the psychological aspects of reintegration.
5. Systemic support for the child, parent and caregivers through access to and coordination of appropriate service and programs in the community (this includes: housing, employment, family-oriented activities and resources; alcohol and drug-abuse resources)
For Child Welfare Agencies and Workers:
1. Training should take place in join sessions with release personnel from jail or prison; child welfare workers, and community corrections agents or probation officers.
2. Creatively use the traditional child welfare and self-sufficient funding sources (ex: TANF).
1. Increase communication between incarcerated parents and teachers. Keep incarcerated parent informed of child's school progress, problems, etc.
2. Avoid being judgmental
3. Attend in-service training for dealing with special challenges of the children of the incarcerated
4. Make arrangements for school-based support groups for children of incarcerated parents; provide for confidentiality of information and sensitivity of program participation
Children of Criminal Offenders & Foster Care, Child Welfare League of America, 1999
Breaking the Cycle of Despair: Children of Incarcerated Mothers, Women's Prison Association & Home, Inc., New Yorkaapasalo, J. (2001) "How Do Young Offenders Describe Their Parents?" Legal and Criminological Psychology, 6, 103-120.
Johnston, D., (1995). Parent-Child Visitation in Jail or Prison, Children of Incarcerated Parents, Lexington Books, New York, N.Y.
NEED HELP? IN MARICOPA COUNTY, CALL "FAMILIES IN NEED OF SERVICES" (A DIVISION OF MARICOPA COUNTY GOVERNMENT SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT) AT( 602) 606-4308.
If you are the caregiver of a child with a parent of loved one in prison, here's some help. Use one or more of these suggestions each day of the month:
1. Be honest with the child about why the offender is in prison; use it as an opportunity to explain (age appropriately) that when a person makes a mistake, there are consequences that are suffered, and that admitting responsibility and learning from one's mistakes is a good thing to develop.
2. Make sure the child clearly understands that he/she is not at all responsible for the incarceration of the adult, even if the child himself is the one who was the victim of the adult's behavior or if the child was a witness at the trial of the adult.
3. Say "I love you" to the child at least once each day.
4. Eat breakfast with the child.
5. Tell your child about something funny that happened to you as a child.
6. Using a pretend situation, show your child how to handle conflict, stress, anger, etc. without hitting another person or object.
7. Say "yes" to your child as often as possible today.
8. Don't expect behavior or make demands of a child that his age-group can't possibly produce just because such behavior will make things "easier" or more convenient for you (example: "Sit still and be quiet while I visit your father in prison for 3 hours.")
9. Let your child or children plan a meal and shop for groceries with a budgeted amount of money.
10. Show patience and understanding when your child demonstrates a bad/sad mood today.
11. Arrange a quiet and appropriate place for your child to do homework and keep track of the completion of the actual homework. Some school systems actually provide for on-line accessibility to a child's homework assignments.
12. Help your child identify the pros and cons for a particular decision he or she needs to make. Help them make this list in writing on two sides of a piece of paper.
13. Read a children's book to your child about holidays celebrated around the world.
14. Talk about something with your child that makes you sad; that makes you glad. The "sad" conversation can be about the parent who is incarcerated.
15. Have the child write a letter to the President of the United States, the state Governor or to a legislator about something he believes should be changed in the law.
16. Ask your child his/her opinion on an issue that affects the family.
17. Agree with the child on a regular time for homework each school day. The child should have input. The adult should be available during the selected time to help (but not to do the homework for the child).
18. Teach something today to your child by setting a good example.
19. Go to a playground together (age appropriate). Or a movie that the two of you select.
20. Think of a particular emergency situation. Talk with the child about who he can ask for help, and how to do this. Use various situation such as when his cell phone might not be working, etc.
21. Involve your child in active preparation of a special meal.
22. Ask your child to suggest a rule for everyone in the family that is fair.
23. Arrange to talk with your child's teacher, even if a regular parent-child conference isn't scheduled.
24. Remind your child that loving him doesn't depend upon his test results, his grades, etc.
25. Give your child a new responsibility, as well as a new privilege.
26. Tell your child how glad you are that he/she is part of your life.
27. Tell your child about something clever or funny that he did as a younger child or baby.
28. Help your child practice ways to resist pressure to use alcohol or other drugs.
29. Help (role play) your child develop ways to respond to other kids who may know about his parents' incarceration and may make fun of him about it.
30. Visit the library together and help pick out books for the child to read on his own, and for the two of you to read together.
31. Talk about stereotypes you may see on TV shows (such as smart kids being portrayed as nerds).
32. Read or learn about ways to effectively manage or handle stress and then try this method with the child.
33. Talk about how you recently resisted peer or sales pressure -- when someone tried to sell YOU something you did not want (anyone who has ever been to a timeshare presentation and left without buying something knows about this!).
34. Involve your child in preparing a special meal that SHE has selected.
35. Encourage hopes and dreams. Help your child see that he can leave a bad neighborhood; avoid gang involvement; get good grades in school to position himself for scholarships and advanced education; etc.
36. Start a lifetime habit of thinking about your child in loving ways. Children are always inconvenient, unpredictable; expensive; ungrateful, self-centered; and forgetful of their manners, pets and parents. But your job is to let them know you love them unconditionally.
NOW, START OVER AND DO THESE THINGS NEXT MONTH!!!!
Family of Prisoner Information for State Prisons
In 2005, then-Director Dora Schriro decided to form what she called a "Constituent Services Advisory Committee." The operative word is: advisory. This committee has no power, authority or formal role in policy or procedure within the ADOC. Instead, the group is supposed to ask questions about operational practices and policies and make suggestions to"improve certain policies, practices, programs and protocols" and to "ensure the department's communication with offenders families and friends is effective."
The hand-selected members of the Committee (which has continued in name-only status since Charles Ryan assumed the directorship of the ADOC) include persons from groups whom the DOC does not fear because their leaders do not possess enough background information or understanding of fundamental inmate constitutional rights to challenge anything the DOC might decide to do; a few former offenders (Caucasian inmates who served time in minimum custody, each of whom served less than four (4) years in prison); and other service groups --- some of whom rely for income upon contracts they hold with the ADOC. In other words, from the DOC's perspective, this is a "safe" committee that won't shake up the boat or be too inquisitive.
To date (2011), the committee, which is still advertised as in existence on the DOC website, has met very infrequently, and we are aware of some members of the committee who are unable to obtain copies of minutes of meetings they may have missed. The minutes of the meetings are unavailable to the public. We are unaware of any positive changes in visitation or with any other policies which have been affected by or influenced by this committee.
In short, this is pretty much a sham committee, probably initiated in order to have the Department appear "balanced" when taking into account the concerns and issues of both victims and prisoner's families. While we commend the current DOC Director, Charles Ryan, for his willingness to periodically sit down with Middle Ground in individualized meetings to hear our concerns, we observe that if the Department ever truly wanted to have meaningful, timely and consistent input about how they can effectively communicate with offenders families, they would provide meaningful avenues to do so. Unfortunately, this committee does not provide such opportunity.