Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

March 22, 2013

Tending to the families of prisoners

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — New York state is home to an estimated 105,000 children with a parent serving time in prison or jail.

Prisoners are People Too, Inc. has been a fundamental catalyst for change within the prison system since 2005 when it was created to educate the community on prison issues while emphasizing the humanity of both the victim and the offender to make sound and necessary changes within the prison system.

PRP2’s current initiative focuses on the innocent and often times uninformed bystanders: the children of these incarcerated individuals. On Saturday the organization will be hosting the conference “It Takes A Community: Supporting Children of Incarcerated Parents” at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara.

Claudia Racine, facilitator for the Niagara County chapter of PRP2, hopes the conference will open up a dialogue in Niagara County on working together as a community to create a better understanding of the issues these children are dealing with and how to provide them the proper resources so they receive the support they need.

“The purpose of the conference is to focus on the impact of incarceration of a parent on children such as the trauma of witnessing a parent’s arrest; how these children are at greater risk for mental health issues, self-esteem issues, failing or dropping out of school; it also will focus on the difficulties and challenges to grandparents and other family members who are now raising these children and, the children who end up in foster care,” she said.

Green believes increased awareness of support outlets would have helped her children feel comfortable talking about such a difficult situation that often carries much stigma in society.

Green’s 14 year-old son Kajahmel, a ninth-grader at Canisius High School was 8 years old when the police came to the house to arrest his father. A few years older than his younger brother, he understood more but was left with an overwhelming sense of unsureness.

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