PA Report on Children of Incarcerated Parents – Part 4 - Recommendations: Family and Corrections Interaction

on Thursday - August 09, 2012.

The "Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children" report examined and made recommendations in four key areas in which children are impacted:

Arrests and Judicial Proceedings

Caregiver and Support Services

Family and Corrections Interaction

Reentry and Reunification

Here are the committee's recommendations related to Family and Corrections Interaction:

FAMILY AND CORRECTIONS INTERACTION

Visiting and Communications

Include the following language in the mission statements of all correctional facilities and criminal justice training academies: "Support evidence-based and research- informed programs that facilitate the bonds between arrested and incarcerated parents and their children and families and reduce recidivism."

Policies and Practices

• Strive for contact visits between an incarcerated parent and their child at all state correctional facilities and county jails.

• Provide for video visitation opportunities to supplement, not replace, contact visits, telephone calls, and correspondence.

• Provide for appropriate electronic mail contact between an incarcerated parent and his or her child.

• Permit incarcerated parents to schedule telephone calls based on the availability of their child and their child's caregiver.

• Provide detailed information in plain language regarding visitation policies, telephone calls, correspondence and any other approved communications tools to incarcerated parents, their families and their child's caregivers.

• Encourage schools to provide incarcerated parents with copies of school calendars, progress reports, and report cards.

• Provide orientation for first-time visitors.

• Provide an ombudsman or other appropriate contact person in each jail and correctional facility for families to contact regarding information or concerns.

• Provide for easier and less expensive communications between an incarcerated parent and his or her child, including, but not limited to, free stationary and stamps, reduced charges for telephone calls, and earned time opportunities for telephone calls to the children.

• Provide a visitation area within the jail or correctional facility that is comfortable for the children of incarcerated parents, including, but not limited to, interactive games, books, crafts, and age-appropriate videos.

• Furnish visitation rooms in all county jails and correctional facilities to enable greater interaction between incarcerated parents and their children

• Establish flexible visiting hours that accommodate the schedules of schoolchildren and families.

• Identify and disseminate a model program for a reservation system for jail and prison visits to reduce wait times, eliminate turn-aways and allow for all clearances and travel arrangements to be completed in advance.

• When a child is in state custody and a Children, Youth and Family Services representative or designee supervises a child's visit with his or her parent, agency-supervised visitation should be considered a high priority and not subject to cancellation barring emergency circumstances.

• Recommend that all school districts change their policies so that a prison or jail visit with a parent by a student is considered an excused absence.

Evidence-Based and Research-Informed Family-Strengthening Programs

• As parenting programs and other individualized, prescribed rehabilitative programming will benefit family reunification and stability upon offender reentry, corrections administrators should afford incarcerated parents with the proper programs in order to promote family stability and reduce recidivism and encourage incarcerated parents to complete a parenting program prior to release.

• Provide for and fund programs intended to improve parenting skills. Require that all approved and funded family-strengthening programs in jails and prisons include both co-parenting and facilitated, child-healthy visits in the curriculum. Encourage the establishment of a communications journal between an incarcerated parent and his or her child utilizing various communications tools.

• To maximize the effectiveness of family-strengthening programs, develop coordinated multimodal intervention that would involve inmates, children and their caregivers and that would take place both during the period of incarceration and post-release.

Previous article(s) in this series:

Part 1:http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-1

Part 2: http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-2

Part 3: http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-3

The full 144-page report is available online here:

http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/resources/documents/ftp/documents/children%20of%20incarcerated%20parents.pdf