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The preservation and strengthening of prisoners family ties and parent-child relationships will require vision and direction from the highest levels of public policy decision making and a fundamental shift in the prevailing system responses to prisoners children and families. It is not reasonable to place the responsibility for the creation of family oriented prison environments and system-wide change on individual prison administrators and directors of corrections departments. In the face of escalating prison budgets and priorities focused on safety and security, few will make family matters and post release success major goals or priorities. It is important for child welfare and correctional leaders and professional associations to develop principles and national standards covering parents in prison and their children and to adopt these standards as a part of the accreditation process for child welfare agencies and correctional institutions. When parents are in prison and their children are under the custody of the state, families and children experience unique problems and corrections and child welfare staff are faced with unique challenges. Most states do not have child welfare policies or procedures to address parenting issues during incarceration and workers are left, more or less, to their own problem solving initiative and ingenuity. Child welfare-corrections system partnership models, family oriented policy directives and agency protocols are necessary components of serious efforts to meet the best interests of the child. The ability and motivation to keep trying under the most difficult of circumstances that prisoners families display and the sense of kinship and obligation that they have for a member who has been publicly sanctioned are solid strengths. These actions, and the nations general interest in protecting children and strengthening families, provide sound reasons to promote and adopt policies which help prisoners maintain family ties and help families carry out their family obligations and responsibilities for their children. A social investment in prisoners families and children will require the adoption of more positive views of prisoners families and family relationships, better understanding of family needs and societal responses, and dedicated attention to changing the prevailing system responses.
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Letter from the Editor, Road to Jericho
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Seeking Black Men and Women to tell their stories, or the stories of a family member or other loved one, about dealing with the justice systems across America.