How California is cracking down on contraband in state prisons

Contraband: (n)  1. illegal or prohibited traffic in goods (smuggling) 2. goods or merchandise whose importation, exportation, or possession is forbidden

$5000. 6 months. A misdemeanor/felony charge. Three of the more obvious consequences for those who choose to bring contraband into a correctional facility. But what about the chain reaction effects…Children who watch their caregiver’s arrest, more familial impact, denial of future visits. 

If you’ve visited a correctional facility, you’ve likely seen the large signs at the gate entrance about illegal items. Bringing contraband to a correctional facility is an illegal activity with many consequences to the person who brings it, the inmate who is caught with it, and other staff, inmates, and visitors, including children who are with the person bringing in the contraband.

For the person who bring contraband in: A fine, jail time, loss of future visits, and a misdemeanor/felony charge

For inmates caught with contraband: Days lost of good time credit and loss of privileges

For other inmates, officers, visitors, and children: Disruption of their visit, the trauma of seeing their caregiver arrested, and safety concerns. Children may be taken into CPS custody if their caregivers are arrested.

In Fall 2011, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 26 (SB26), which makes it a misdemeanor to those try to take a cell phone into a prison or own an unauthorized cell phone in prison.

If you want more information about SB 26 and illegal cell phone usage in prison, check out the video above or click here. If you would like more information on receiving phone calls from inmates, check out the bilingual information sheets here.

The Visiting a Friend or Loved One in Prison guide lists all items allowed in the visiting room along with other visiting regulations.  Visitor Centers can help clarify any questions you have about approved items. If you would like to send money to an inmate, you can find more information here. Information on approved inmate package vendors can be found here.

Lastly, if you feel threatened or intimidated by the person you visit to bring contraband, resources are available here or by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Unapproved items…Contraband…are a safety and security risk. Let’s keep our loved ones inside and out of prison safe by keeping unapproved items out.

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Holiday Wish 2011…A Heartwarming Success!

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

-Mother Teresa

In mid December, we had the pleasure of hosting over 60 children and their caregivers in a fun filled day at the Friends and Family Neighborhood Center. In addition to picking up their gifts, families were invited to snap a picture together, take part in activities, and share cookies and cider with each other.

Check out some of the photos from the event!

Friends Outside and all of the children sponsored this season give our deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone who helped make this season brighter for those impacted by incarceration. Thanks to our sponsors, over 60 children in our community received not only what money bought them but a wonderful memory to hold on to and the knowledge they are not alone and deserve more out of life.

Information for Those Who Work with Children of Incarcerated Parents

I’ve been a social worker for a long time and it’s heartbreaking when I see our kids grow up in foster care and go from group home, to juvenile hall, to jail and then to prison. And then, I see their children come into the foster care system, and the generational cycle starts again. The corrections and child welfare system are two complicated bureaucracies, often serving the same families, but each operating on different timelines, different rules, different funding. If corrections and child welfare could put our collective resources together, perhaps we can stop this cruel, vicious cycle.”  —Susan Arding, founding member of the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative and supervising social worker for the San Francisco Human Services Agency

We know that children of incarcerated parents face unique challenges and sometimes the work can feel overwhelming.

When a Parent is Incarcerated, a primer for social workers by Friends Outside board member Yali Lincroft, provides statistics and basic information about corrections and child welfare. The guide addresses visiting, immigration issues, and other issues social workers may be faced with.

The primer also includes Ten Tips for Kinship Caregivers of Children of Incarcerated Parents by Dee Ann Newell, Director and Founder of Arkansas Voices. This tips sheet is similar to the Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights.

October’s Activities!

Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.

Toddlers: Emotion Recognition

 Purpose: Engage parents and toddlers in recognizing and responding to expressions

MaterialsEmotion Flashcards

Method:

  1. Create a set of flashcards for each family (so they can take them home)
  2. Parents show the cards to the toddler and ask:
    1. Can you show me a “happy” face?
    2. Which face do you like best?
    3. How are you feeling right now?

Result:

One of the main toddler goals is to recognize and appropriately communicate/express emotions. Toddlers are just learning to express themselves with words and still use many facial expressions to communicate their feelings and needs. Flashcards and parental engagement can assist them in learning the words that go with emotions and expressions.

Tweens: Cyberbullying: Who, Me? Why Should I Care

 Purpose:

  • Analyze online behaviors that could be considered cyberbullying.
  • Generate multiple solutions and actions that bystanders can take to improve a cyberbullying situation.
  • Practice peer mentoring for cyberbullying prevention.

Materials:

  1. Worksheets
  2. Writing Materials
  3. Construction Paper

Method:

Part 1: What’s the Problem?

  • Distribute the activity sheets. Have participants read the scenario about Kevin, José, and the video-sharing Web site.
  • Have participants write their answers to the two questions under What’s the Problem? Look for responses that indicate students’ understanding that both events are embarrassing, but that embarrassing someone in school exposes him to an immediate peer group, while embarrassing him on a World Wide Web site exposes him to ridicule by the entire school plus hundreds of millions of strangers.
  • Have participants tell their own stories without using actual names.
    • Ask: Have you ever witnessed kids posting or sending photos or videos in order to embarrass someone? What happened? Why?

Part 2: Think About It

  • Have participants read the Think About It section on the activity sheets. Point out that sometimes when people believe they cannot be seen or found out, they do things that they would never do in a face-to-face situation.
    • Ask: Who is doing the cyberbullying in this story? Is it only José? What about the boys in school who helped him upload the video to the Web site? What about the people who posted nasty comments? What about the people who viewed the video? Encourage students to decide for themselves and support their reasoning.
  • Have participants use drawing paper and markers to create a visual map showing all the players in this event. Participants may choose to show a labeled web, use concentric circles, or draw something more representational. Allow participants to share their maps with their parents and others.

Part 3: Find Solutions

  • Have participants discuss their solutions. Look for solutions that show empathy for Kevin and discuss the rights and responsibilities of being citizens of a worldwide community.
  • Make sure participants understand that those people who posted cruel comments were just as guilty of being bullies as the boys who originally uploaded the video were.
  • Discuss with participants how trusted adults could help, including asking a guidance counselor to talk to Kevin, a technology teacher to investigate whether it would be possible to remove the video from the site, and a school principal to try to enforce school bullying rules.
  • Have participants add to their concept map drawings, clearly labeling their proposed solutions.

Result:

Tweens learn about communication and collaboration, to interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts or others employing a variety of digital environments and media. They learn to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Tweens also take digital citizenship, that is: advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology. They also exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.

All Ages: Body Beautiful

Purpose: For youth to identify and share positive traits they possess

Materials:

  1. Body Template
  2. Markers/pens/crayons
  3. Scissors

Method:

  1. Give each participant a body template
  2. Encourage them to label each part of their body with a positive thing they can do
    1. Arms: Give Hugs
    2. Brain: Helps with Homework
    3. Legs: Runs Quickly
    4. Heart: Caring friend
  3. Allow them to share with their family and others

Results:

In a time when body issues are on the rise, even the youngest of children have body image issues. Children will see focus on the positive traits they and others have.

 

 

Helping Children Understand Incarceration

Did you know that one in forty children in the US has a parent who is incarcerated? That nine percent of the children in California have a parent in the criminal justice system? These children often face confusion, loss, grief, and poor academic performance and need support to understand what “incarceration” truly means to them.

Friends Outside partnered with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to give caregivers the words and ways to open communication about incarceration.

 

 

 

How To Explain Jails and Prisons to Children is an easy to read guide which helps define terms associated with incarceration, addresses emotions, gives resources, and has answers to a child’s commonly asked questions. It is designed to be read by the caregiver and child together.

 

 

As an agency who sees the effects of incarceration on families and communities daily, we are passionate about lessening the impact of incarceration on children and their caregivers. If you or someone you know could use this tool, please forward this post or download and distribute as necessary.

For additional insight, check out a similar project sponsored by 4theloveofkids: