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On August 7, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conducted work-day raids across Mississippi and arrested nearly 700 people, many of whom had children at school. At the end of the school day—on what was these children’s first day back to school—educators and volunteers had to devise emergency plans to provide food and shelter, emotional support, and age-appropriate explanations to confused and terrified children. These raids ignored federal guidelines designed to minimize the harms of workplace raids on children of arrested parents, ensure that social service agencies are notified prior to arrests so that they could develop plans to meet the needs of affected children, and require ICE to release caregivers of minor children as quickly as possible.
Osborne's Center for Justice Across Generations has released its 2019 summary following the end of this year's New York State legislative session.
Over the past 10 years, the Osborne Association’s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents (NYCIP) has brought together government agencies, and community and faith-based organizations to develop solutions to address the harms of parent-child separation that result from a parent’s arrest and incarceration. For decades, we have offered programs that maintain the parent-child bond during incarceration, and we have brought hundreds of children to visit their incarcerated parents. As an 85-year-old organization, we are deeply aware of the damaging effects of separation on children, we are horrified by the current DOJ policy of taking children from their parents at the US border and we join those calling for the immediate end of this unconscionable practice. The President’s recent Executive Order is a start but is not enough. The more than 2,000 children currently suffering from being separated need to be urgently reunited with their parents and a standing solution and firm, unequivocal commitment to keeping families together is needed.
On February 1, Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s office announced a $6 million investment intended to support women incarcerated at Rikers Island facilities, and lessen the chance that they return. First Lady Chirlane McCray is leading the charge to improve the frequency and quality of family visits for women on Rikers, as well as broadening mental health and transitional career counseling.
This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his FY 2019 Executive Budget, including proposals aimed at increasing fairness in the criminal justice system. The budget includes needed and humane reforms to New York’s systems of arrest, prosecution, incarceration, and reentry, as well as funding for treatment to address the opioid epidemic and support for implementing last year's legislation that raised the age of entry into the adult criminal justice system. The proposal for geriatric parole is not just cost-effective and logical, it holds the promise of beginning to undo a system of endless punishment that keeps people—including those sentenced for violent crimes—in prison for decades regardless of their remorse, rehabilitation, and readiness to contribute to the community. Unfortunately, no additional funding has been allocated for Alternatives to Incarceration.
Throughout #SeeUsSupportUs month, we are highlighting the voices of people directly impacted by parental incarceration. Below is a piece by author Pamela Brunskill about how schools can be more understanding and supportive of children of incarcerated parents. Read more about Pam and her story at https://pamelabrunskill.com/
During the past year, Osborne partnered with StoryCorps, the national oral history project and radio program, to record, preserve and share the unique and important stories of our staff and participant community. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.
Twice a year, the Osborne Association’s Family Ties program facilitates a visit to Albion Correctional Facility for children to visit their incarcerated mothers. Previous accounts of the visit describe the day to day events of the trip. For the recent April visit, our Communications Assistant Melissa Tanis volunteered to be a chaperone on the trip. She offered her insights about how the trip felt for her and the kids she was supporting.
Osborne's mentoring program participants recently went on a retreat to upstate New York for a weekend of community building through Alternatives to Violence (AVP) workshops. Osborne Lead Mentor T Haywood first discovered the Alternatives to Violence Project while incarcerated and now leads workshops and trains mentoring participants to be AVP facilitators. Program participants, Sierra Williams and Tayvon Williams, share in their own words what they learned from the retreat.
Osborne President and CEO Elizabeth Gaynes responds to the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Osborne’s Youth Action Council (YAC) and Youth Experience Success (YES) programs celebrated their annual Achievement Ceremony at St. James’ Episcopal Church this June. Volunteer partners at St. James’ welcomed Osborne staff, families, and caregivers to their beautiful and historic building to recognize the youths’ achievements during the 2016-2017 cycle. The participants in these two programs all share at least one thing in common: they have a currently incarcerated parent or a parent that was recently released from prison. Osborne’s YES Program is a nine month, skills-building curriculum for youth ages 13 to 15, who have a parent who is currently incarcerated. The YAC is a group of 16 to 19-year-olds whose mission is to raise awareness about the effect of parental incarceration on children and advocate for positive changes in the criminal justice system. At the ceremony there was a palpable sense of pride in the air for these youth, especially when listening to the amazing sound clouds both the YES and YAC members created on their own this year. One of the highlights of the ceremony each year is when the youth share what the program means to them. See their inspiring speeches below.
Throughout #SeeUsSupportUs month, we are highlighting the voices of people directly impacted by parental incarceration. Below is a piece by See Us, Support Us partner Hena Ali-Bernard about her relationship with her father and her caregivers during his incarceration.
Testimony for the Osborne Association, by the Osborne Center for Justice Across Generations for the Assembly Health and Corrections Committees at the joint public hearing on healthcare in correctional facilities.
Presented by: Elizabeth Gaynes, Osborne President and CEO on October 30, 2017
A participant in our Elder Reentry Initiative (ERI) recently shared her experience meeting Osborne while incarcerated on Rikers Island and coming home to support. She asked we only use her initials for this story.
Two years ago when I sent our annual year-end letter, I began with: This is a time of possibility.
Last year, right after the election, when I sent our annual year-end letter, I began with: There is so much work to do.
Osborne participant Carlos Rodriguez recently shared his experience of meeting Osborne while incarcerated at Queensboro Correctional Facility and his journey to gaining employment with Osborne's Career Center Instructor Henry Guiden. Carlos (right) and Henry are pictured above with Carlos's certificate of completion of Project Renewal's culinary arts program.
The Osborne Association was fortunate to have Special Guest David Simon, journalist, author, and television producer speak at our 2016 Lighting the Way annual fundraising breakfast. After receiving the Thomas Mott Osborne Spirit Medal, his speech addressed the crisis of mass incarceration and closed with a story about the life of Donnie Andrews, the real-life inspiration for his character Omar on The Wire.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
New York, NY, April 18, 2016 A decade after launching a groundbreaking initiative to promote the wellbeing of children affected by arrest and incarceration, the Osborne Association now takes a big step forward in our mission to reduce reliance on incarceration and its human and economic costs, with the launch of the Osborne Center for Justice Policy and Practice (OCJPP).
Osborne has recently partnered with the StoryCorps Justice Project to document the experiences of our participants as youth of color involved with the criminal justice system in New York City. The project will amplify and preserve the stories of those whose lives have been affected by mass incarceration and the criminal justice system. Through their first-person accounts, StoryCorps works to ensure that people's experience of the current era of mass incarceration is preserved in the historical record and shared nationwide. Hear Jamal's story on the StoryCorps site.