Incarcerated people are not isolated individuals. They come from families—they are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They have sisters and brothers. Their incarceration impacts their families. These relationships influence their lives while inside as well as their success upon release. Maintaining strong family relationships during incarceration benefits everyone. The Family Unity Project’s purpose is to maintain and strengthen family relationships during and after incarceration.
LSPC’s Family Unity Project meets with parents in prison who struggle daily to maintain relationships with their families. We talk with children who wish they knew their parents, and we work within communities decimated by incarceration and missing mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. As a result, we developed the Bill of Rights for Incarcerated Parents, a call to change policies and practices that put punishment over rehabilitation, family separation over reunification.
The best way to keep families together and achieve reunification is to reduce the use of punishment and incarceration as a means of solving social problems. Mass incarceration has the collateral consequence of separating hundreds of thousands of California’s children from their parents, many of them losing their parents and extended families entirely through adoption.
All of our work is based on the idea that people in prison have a human right to family—to make informed decisions about their children, have contact with them and have a say on who those children live with.
The Family Unity Project’s work spans the following programmatic areas:
-Support parental rights of incarcerated mothers and fathers
-Expand visiting and other programs to maintain family bonds
-Improve conditions of confinement for women who give birth while incarcerated
-End long-term solitary confinement
-Advocate for real alternatives to incarceration and parole