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Free! Family Survival Guide Information and Resources for Families of Prisoners 2009

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FREE!
Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment

Family Survival Guide
Information, Resources and Personal Stories
for Families with Incarcerated Loved Ones

Written by families for families
http://www.freefamilies.us/
Tel: 718-300-9576
freefamiliesinc@gmail.com
Please take a moment to write us and let us know if you found the guide to be useful:
Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment
PO Box 90
Syracuse, NY 13201
©FREE! Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment

This publication was made by and for family members of people who are incarcerated.
Your generous donations help to keep our work and our organization thriving. Thank
you for your continued support.
About the Art
The art in this guide was created by incarcerated artists and provided to us for use by
The Prisons Foundation. To learn more about this organization and the artists who
created these pieces, visit: www.prisonsfoundation.org.

Disclaimer
The information contained in this publication is for general information purposes only. The
information is collected and distributed by FREE!, and while we made our best efforts to assure
the accuracy and reliability of the information contained herein, we make no representations or
warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the publication or the information, products, services, or
related graphics contained herein for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information
is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will FREE! be liable for any loss or damage
including

without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage

whatsoever arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this publication in print or on
online. This publication references other sources which are not under the control of FREE! we
have no control over the nature, content, accuracy and availability of the referenced sources.
The inclusion of or allusion to any third party source does not necessarily imply that FREE!
recommends or endorses the views expressed within them.
©FREE! Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment
2

Table of Contents

About FREE! and This Guide………………………………………………………………………………4
Letter from the Founder……………………………………………………………………………………..5
Section 1: Getting the Phone Call that a Loved One Has Been Arrested………………….8
Section 2: My Loved One Has Been Sentenced. Now What?.......................................21
Section 3: Staying Connected While a Loved One Is Behind Bars…………………………27
Section 4: Maintaining and Building Intimate Relationships……………………………...37
Section 5: What about the Children?............................................................................43
Section 6: Healthcare…………........................................................................................52
Section 7: Rights of the Incarcerated?.........................................................................60
Section 8: Homecoming……………………………………..…………………………………………….65
Section 9: Get Involved!................................................................................................72
Acknowledgments………………………………………………………………………………….………..77
Appendix………………………………………………………………………………………………………...78
FREE! Historical Timeline...…………………………………………………………………………….95

3

About FREE! and This Guide
FREE! is a grassroots collective connecting with people impacted by the social stigma,
isolation, and economic hardships resulting from a loved one‘s imprisonment. Our
mission is to support, strengthen and empower impacted families by creating safe
spaces for peer-to-peer support, self-advocacy and self-development trainings, public
education and community dialogue, waging and supporting grassroots and policy campaigns, and creating and promoting media products that reflect the voices and experiences of those most impacted by a culture of mass incarceration.
About This Guide
If you are reading this resource guide, you are probably one of the many millions of
U.S. residents with a loved one who is incarcerated. In New York State 66,000 women
and men are locked in cages, which costs us over $500,000,000 per year.
We created this guide as a companion for understanding, navigating and healing. This
guide is a product of a society that chooses to punish, condemn and criminalize rather
than nourish, support and grow our communities. As you use these materials to guide
you through this journey, remember that your generous donations allow us to continue
our work.
How This Guide Works
Each chapter of this guide contains answers to common questions you may have and
personal stories from our members who have experienced what you are going through
now or may come to face in the future. These personal stories and resources can guide
you in your decision-making and action process. The accompanying Appendix offers
information on organizations, agencies and other useful resources that you may wish to
pursue.

4

Letter from the Founder
When we started in May 2002, we were a small, Brooklyn-based initiative of the Developing Justice Project. Called the ―Prison Families Community Forum,‖ we quickly outgrew our mandate as we confronted myriad issues never before addressed in any comprehensive way. Sure, there were prisoner‘s rights advocates, and social services programs, court systems, elected officials and re-entry specialists. But nowhere, especially
not in New York City, could one find a ―one-stop-shop‖ just for the people whose lives
were shattered by a loved one ending up in prison.
In July 2003, we launched the “Stop the Contract‖ campaign after discovering that
decades of abusive collect call charges from New York State prisons were the result of a
monopoly contract and illegal taxes on our families. As community support soared, we
partnered with the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups to take down this
discriminatory machine. The NY Campaign for Telephone Justice was born, a statewide campaign ultimately impacting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, removing
the $26 million a year kickback the State was pocketing. Resulting, under then Governor Eliot Spitzer, in a cost reduction of 50% per call, and the passage of the Family
Connections Bill, FREE! (the Prison Families Community Forum) along with our partners, demonstrated to the world the power and necessity of UNITY AND ACTION.
Our very formation has been testament to nay-saying social workers and legislators
that families of the incarcerated can and will organize, that we are strong, and we will
be heard!
FREE! from Mandatory Minimums
For over 35 years, the racist, wasteful, and ineffective mandatory minimum Rockefeller
Drug Laws have targeted low income, urban people of color to fill thousands of prison
beds across New York State. Conceived by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in a public relations display of being ―tough on crime‖ and declaring a ―war on drugs,‖ these laws
have devastated the inner city.
Since our inception in 2002, FREE! has been working with Drop the Rock, Real Reform and other allies to finally FREE! ourselves from these mandatory minimums.
Steering Committee members Cheri and Ricky O‘Donoghue have become nationwide
spokespersons against the racist application of these laws.
5

Through statewide advocacy, minor changes to 2004/2005 and 2009/2010 legislation
have been won, affecting a few thousand people at a time. Although mainstream media
headlines billed this organizing victory as ―the End of Rockefeller Drug Laws,‖ there is
still much work to be done to repeal these laws forever.
Our Programs and Activities
In addition to engaging in these and many other political action campaigns, some activities we wish to highlight include:
Self-Empowerment Trainings
Our Self-Empowerment trainings include: Pro Se, Parole Preparation and Appeals
Navigation, Community Organizing, Public Speaking, and Welcoming a Loved One
Back Home Upon Release. Guest facilitators have included Liz Fink, Robin Busch, Rick
Greenberg, Safiya Bandele, Bronx Defenders, Prison Moratorium Project, and many,
many more! Thanks to all who continue to support the leadership development of people with loved ones in prison!
FREE! Families Film Forum
In 2009, in partnership with Maysles Cinema, FREE! launched the FREE! Families
Film Forum, a monthly social and criminal justice screening event and fundraiser. The
forum has engaged hundreds of community members in thought provoking and problem-solving dialogue related to major issues impacting families of incarcerated men
and women. Topics have included mandatory minimum drug laws, gangs/street organizations, police brutality, and visiting prison. Co-sponsored by Third World Newsreel, the monthly gathering continues to build and strengthen relationships among
some of the New Yorkers most targeted by the NYPD: people of color in Harlem.
Holiday Gift Drives
In 2003 and 2004, FREE! collected donations of clothing, holiday gifts and hot beverages to spread holiday cheer among the thousands of women, children and families
waiting in harsh winter weather for buses to visit correctional facilities to do some of
the most important community work–keeping our families together!
Prison Famz Productions
Prison Famz Productions, part of our Media Justice initiative, uses the creation and
promotion of original video and media products to empower prison families by telling
our own stories and creating advocacy tools. In partnership with Manhattan Neighbor6

hood Network, FREE! trains members in professional television and video production.
We air programs on public access television, host community screenings, and sent an
advocacy video to the New York State Senate and governor to reinvest monies used for
drug law enforcement back into developing the most impacted communities.
Resources and Referrals Program
FREE! offers resources and referrals to anyone at any stage of interaction with the
criminal justice system. If we don‘t currently have a program or activity to fit your
needs and interests, our broad network of allies and partners can surely lend a hand. If
none of our organizations offer exactly what you‘re looking for, we encourage you to
JOIN FREE! AND BECOME ACTIVE! Together, we‘ll work to create resources to
fill the void you and your peers identify! (See Section 9: Get Involved! for more information.)
Yet, what‘s most important about all of this is that FREE! belongs to you! It is you and
your family‘s involvement in creating and shaping us that makes us the organization
we are today! As you embark upon this challenging journey, may this guide—and the
knowledge that in unity, even families of the incarcerated are powerful—help to fortify
your family to overcome each and every obstacle in your paths!
On behalf of the incredible volunteer leaders of FREE! we send you solidarity and a
huge bear hug!
Kym Clark
Founder of FREE!

7

Section 1:

Getting the Phone Call that a
Loved One Has Been Arrested
With all the problems our communities face these days with policing, racial profiling,
drug addiction, gang violence, etc., no one wants to get that call saying that their loved
one has been arrested—but it does happen. It could even happen to you. This guide
was written to help you know what to do when you or a loved one has been arrested.
Here are some easy-to-remember steps to follow if you or your loved one has a run-in
with the police:

• Think carefully about your words, movements, body language, and emotions;
•

Keep your hands where the police can see them;

•

Remember that anything you say or do can be used against you, so do not get

into an argument with the police, complain on the scene, say they are wrong or
that you plan to file a complaint;

• Do not make any statements regarding the incident;
•

Do not run;

•

Do not touch any police officer;

• Do not resist even if you believe you are innocent;
• Ask for a lawyer immediately upon your arrest;
•

Try to remember officers' badge and patrol car numbers;

If you are injured, take photographs of the injuries as soon as possible, but
make sure you seek medical attention first.
• Write down everything you remember about the interaction as soon as
possible; and

•

• Find witnesses and get their full names and phone numbers.
My loved one has been arrested. How can I figure out where s/he is?
To find out where your loved one is being held, ask the arresting officer or call your
local precinct or jail. Only the people in charge of the jail can decide if your friends and
relatives can visit. Questions about food, clothing and medicine should also be directed
to the people in charge of the jail.
8

―J

ust because your child has
made a mistake doesn‘t

mean you stop loving them.‖

My loved one has a substance abuse
problem. Does that matter?
If you feel the arrest was caused by alcohol,

-Ivey Walton,

drug or mental problems, tell your attorney.

FREE! Steering Committee member

Some judicial circuits have what are called
―alternative sentencing programs‖ which
may help your loved one get into a special

treatment program. Involvement in a treatment program may help get a better
outcome with the judge and prosecutor. Some judicial circuits also have special
courts called ―drug courts‖ designed to handle such cases.
How long can the police hold my loved one in custody before filing
charges?
If the police have probable cause to believe your loved one has committed a crime but
have not yet brought formal charges, they may detain them in custody for 24 to 48
hours. After this period, the police must release the
person or bring formal charges, which means your

o~o

loved one will have to appear before a judge. If s/he is
released, your loved one could be rearrested at a later
date if the police obtain sufficient evidence.
What procedures must the police follow when
making an arrest?
The police do not have to tell your loved one what crime s/he is being arrested for,
though they probably will. The police are not permitted to use excessive force but
―reasonable‖ force may be used to make the arrest or keep the person from injuring
themselves during the arrest. The police may read your loved one his/her Miranda
rights but do not have to do so if they do not intend to interrogate.
What are Miranda rights?
The police generally read Miranda rights to people who are in custody and are about
9

to be questioned: "You have the right
to remain silent. If you give up the
right to remain silent, anything you
say can and will be used against you
in a court of law. You have the right to
an attorney. If you desire an attorney

―After

arrest the next step

is on a personal level—being honest with
yourself and with your family. Could I have
avoided this problem? Do I need a lifestyle
change? Surely some people are innocent,

and cannot afford one, an attorney

but some just aren‘t. Without a doubt there

will be obtained for you before police

are problems with the way law enforcement

questioning." Miranda rights state

polices the city, but what I am plainly saying

that people in custody do not have to

is, what can I do differently to ensure my

talk to the police and that they have

separation from any legal problems in the

the right to the presence of an attorney.

This exists to protect people

future? I have to keep it real with myself.
Do I create my own problems?

from saying something that will later

I am formerly incarcerated and until I began

be used against them. If Miranda

to see what part I played in my life, getting

rights are not read before questioning, or if police continue to question
someone after they indicate a desire
to consult with an attorney, any such

arrested was a vicious cycle. I continued to
break the law, get arrested and be sent to
prison. Yes, I grew up poor, and was a product of my environment, but after a while all
that played out.

I simply kept going to

statements are generally considered

prison due to the bad choices I continued to

to be ―inadmissible‖ at trial, meaning

make.‖

they cannot be used against the per-

—Brian Greene, Sr.,

son to prove their guilt.

FREE! member

Can police question a person
without reading them their Miranda rights?
Yes. Miranda rights must be read before questioning a person who has been taken
into custody. A person is considered to be "in custody" anytime s/he is placed in an
environment in which they do not believe s/he is free to leave. For example, the police can question witnesses at a crime scene without reading them their Miranda
rights, and should a witness implicate themselves in the crime during that ques10

tioning, their statements could be used against them later in court.
Can police arrest or detain a person without reading them their Miranda
rights?
Yes, but until the person has been informed of his/her Miranda rights, any statements
made during interrogation may be ruled inadmissible in court.
What is an interrogation?
An interrogation can come in the form of direct questioning, such as the police
asking, "Did you kill John Doe?" Interrogation can also be less obvious. For example, a police officer

―Have a talk

with your loved

about how much

you will be involved, and if so, you have to let the
attorney know that they have your loved one‘s permission
to speak to you about the case. If so, ask questions and

might say things that they
know are likely to result in
the person giving information that can later be used
against them.

be sure that you understand the answers. You should ask
for copies of all court documents. Preparing the case is

Many people believe that

so important. Get letters that talk about your loved one‘s

what they say to the police

character: who they are as a person, in the community, in

is not ―admissible‖—or,

the home, as a parent, etc. Your input can make such a

allowed to be used against

difference. Also, remember that although you are not
paying for the lawyer, he is getting paid. In the court
room, he is your voice, speaking for your loved one to the
judge. Make sure you ask him to explain things to you

them

in

court—unless

written down, recorded on
tape, or said directly to a

completely and simply. Know all your options given your

prosecutor or judge. That

specific circumstances—the best case and worst case

is not true. To be on the

end results—so you can make an informed decision. If

safe side, your loved one

you speak another language primarily, make sure that

should assume that any-

your attorney is aware of that as well.‖

thing they say to anybody
-FREE! member

besides their lawyer could
be used against them at

11

trial.
Should a lawyer be present
during interrogations?

―I did

a bullet [city year] on
Rikers Island in 2003

for attempted robbery. I was addicted to
drugs and committed a crime to get the

Yes, even if your loved one is not in

next fix.

custody, it is a good idea to call the

‗benefit‘ my case because I did not want to

local public defender or a lawyer in

be mandated to a drug treatment program.

private practice before talking to the

I learned from people who messed up that

police. This legal representative will

‗opportunity‘ and were returned to jail to

be permitted to accompany your

complete their sentence because they

loved one to the police station and be

didn‘t fulfill the court mandate.

present to protect their interests

wanted to do my time. Originally I was

during police questioning.
My loved one needs a lawyer.
What is the difference between a
public

defender and an 18-b

lawyer?
People who are charged with a crime

I did not use my addiction to

I just

facing an upstate prison bid, but because
this was my first offense, I guess I was
fortunate. If I knew then what I know
now, if I had not been kicking methadone
at the time, and if I was better advised by
my attorney, I probably would have attempted to plead down my charge.

and who cannot afford a lawyer are

I have a problem with the lack of time for

entitled to appointed counsel by the

proper representation (the only time I

State. There is no public defender of-

ever saw my lawyer was 5 minutes before

fice in New York City, but many up-

I was scheduled for court while I was

state counties have one. In New York

waiting anxiously in the bull pen), the lan-

City,

organizations—Legal

guage barriers for those who do not speak

Aid, Neighborhood Defender Service

English, and I am concerned about the

of Harlem, Bronx Defenders, Brook-

lesser educated folks who are not capable

several

lyn Defender Services, Office of the
Appellate Defender, etc.—offer legal
services for people who cannot afford

of understanding the ‗legal lingo‘ that is
thrown at us as we are encouraged to ‗plea
it out‘ right before we go before the
(Continued on page 13)

to purchase legal services.
12

The court can also appoint individual attor(Continued from page 12)

judge.

I‘m also concerned about

many of the overworked legal aid

neys from a panel of approved attorneys to
handle individual cases. These are known as

attorneys—and their mountainous

18-b lawyers. They typically pick up cases in

caseloads—who do not fully ex-

arraignment but are sometimes assigned

plain all of our options to us. They

later.

simply offer us what works best

vouchers to get paid for their time on the

for them. We are not making an

case.

They handle the case and submit

educated decision most times.

An attorney that FREE! has worked with for
There are consequences to the fel-

years feels that, more often than not, an indi-

ony plea that I took that I face daily

vidual will have better representation through

and many barriers that I will face
for the rest of my life. I faced my
peers in court and paid my debt to
society. I do not call myself an excon, ex-offender or anything like
that. Going to jail was just ONE of
many, many, things that I did in my

an institutional office like Legal Aid or the Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD) than by
a private 18-b attorney, as these offices usually offer greater resources (investigations,
social work, etc.).

life. It does not define me. Life

What happens if there was police bru-

sometimes throws curves that are

tality or misconduct?

necessary to take a close look inside

Examples of misconduct include racial profil-

and find out who we are and where

ing and discrimination, illegal searches, false

we belong. I have no regrets. Life is

arrests, unreasonable crowd control issues,

good today.‖

use of unreasonable force in making an arrest,

-FREE! member and
graduate of the
Correctional Association‘s
Reconnect Project

and death that occurs while a person is in custody. If your loved ones feel that s/he was
violated by the police, contact a lawyer as
soon as possible to make sure his/her rights
are protected.

You can also file a written

complaint with the police department‘s internal affairs division, its civilian complaint
board, or call the ACLU hotline (1-877-6-PROFILE). Protect yourself and those you
13

care about. For more information, read their pamphlet entitled ―What to Do if I‘m
Stopped by the Police‖ at www.aclu.org/profiling.
New York City has overlapping law enforcement agencies within the police department
(for example, housing and transit police) as well as prison and jail guards. When officers in these different departments do not do their jobs properly it is important for us
to send a message that we will not tolerate civil rights violations. Both the police and
the jurisdictions for which they work can be held liable in such instances.

Help! My Son Has Been Arrested!

October 1, 2003 couldn‘t have been a more beautiful day. I had just finished work and
was on the Metro North heading upstate to the new home we had recently bought. About
fifteen minutes into my commute, my cell phone rang. It was a frantic call from Carmen,
my son‘s girlfriend‘s mother, telling me something I couldn‘t accept: my son Ashley had
been arrested for selling cocaine in some far away place upstate. I wanted to get off the
train right then and there, but it was an express train and I wouldn‘t reach my destination for another hour and fifteen minutes. As soon as I got to the parking lot, I went to
my car and called Carmen back to ask her to repeat what she was trying to tell me. She
asked if I‘d like the name of a lawyer friend of hers for an immediate consultation. I said
yes, thanked her and called the lawyer as soon as we hung up. When I told him what Carmen told me, he said that this was really bad news; a drug sale would fall under the
Rockefeller Drug Laws. He explained that these were Draconian laws that carried sentences like 15 years to life, even for a small amount of drugs. He also said that it would
cost me upwards of $15,000 to retain a lawyer, and suggested that I get a lawyer up in
Utica, because ―...no Manhattan lawyer would want to take the case because it is too far
(Continued on page 15)

14

(Continued from page 14)

to travel.‖ Then he wished me luck.

I‘d never heard of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. When I got home, I immediately called my
husband who was still in the city working and then I jumped on the computer to see what
I could learn on Google. What I saw made me cry. It confirmed what the lawyer was telling me. Ashley, who was only 20 at them time, could be facing a 15-to-life sentence. I
could not accept that. In my Google search, I found names of people who were fighting to
get rid of these laws—prominent people like then Lieutenant Governor of New York,
David Paterson, and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry. I immediately starting writing letters
to everyone I could think of that could help me. I was in a lot of pain, but I could think
of nothing but keeping Ashley from going to prison, or getting him out as soon as possible
if he did have to go. Assemblyman Aubry graciously answered my letter and gave me the
names of people and organizations that could possibly help me help my son and repeal the
Rockefeller Drug Laws.

I contacted Randy Credico of the New York Mothers of the Disappeared, and the Drug
Policy Alliance, both of whom helped me tremendously. Randy Credico responded to my
emailed letter minutes after I sent it. Three days later, at his urging, I was in Albany
standing before legislators and TV cameras, telling my son‘s story and asking for help. On
the bus I took to Albany, Randy had invited a newspaper reporter for The Village Voice,
Jennifer Gonnerman. Jennifer interviewed me and eventually went to the first prison
Ashley was sent to, and interviewed him as well. That interview resulted in a cover story
for The Village Voice entitled ―A Question of Justice‖ (June 22, 2002). It is through
Jennifer‘s reporting that I learned what really happened to Ashley that day.

(Continued on page 16)

15

(Continued from page 15)

In the summer of 2003, Ashley was friendly with two young men, who came from well-todo families in Manhattan. A couple of times Ashley had sold a few grams of cocaine to
these boys. In the fall, the boys moved up to Utica to attend Hamilton College. They
kept in contact with Ashley, but soon their buying habits changed. They started calling
Ashley asking for more than they usually wanted. That‘s because the two boys were drug
dealers, selling the cocaine they bought from Ashley on their school campus. Eventually,
word got around to the school officials, who called in the police. The police told the boys
that if they wanted to do ―the right thing‖ they needed to help them set up the person
they got the cocaine from. The police told them that they had the DA‘s ear and this
would go a long way to help them get out of their mess. So in true sting operation style,
the police told one of the boys to call Ashley and order 2.6 ounces of cocaine. They
asked for this amount specifically, so that they would be able to convict Ashley on an A-1
felony, which carried a 15-to-life sentence. The two boys agreed to do it, placed the call,
and the next day Ashley took the Amtrak train up to Utica. When he got to the station,
one of the boys called Ashley from his cell phone and told him to come outside because
he was in a rush. Little did Ashley know that the boy was hiding in the backseat of the
police car so he could identify Ashley when he emerged. As soon as Ashley stepped outside the station, he knew he had been had. The police yelled, ―This is the police!‖ and
threw him to the ground, handcuffed him and took him down to the police station.

Ashley was originally charged with an A-1 felony. The first lawyer we hired was a lawyer
in Utica—one of the worst human beings I‘ve ever come across. It was apparent after
two months of trying to work with him that he had to go. The second lawyer we hired was
from Manhattan. He was very helpful to us, but also very expensive. He fought the D.A.
[district attorney] on the sentence, which was incredibly harsh. Ashley had no prior record,
(Continued on page 17)

16

(Continued from page 16)

was only 20-years-old, and had been arrested for a non-violent crime. But all of this

mat-

tered very little to the D.A.. Eventually the DA offered Ashley a plea bargain down to a B
felony with a 7-to-life sentence. Larry kept fighting and eventually the DA lowered it to 7-to
-21 years, but that‘s as low as he‘d go. Ashley‘s only alternative was to go to trial and try to
fight the case. We were assured by our lawyer and everyone else we consulted with that
Ashley would lose the case and end up getting the A-1 conviction after all. We could not take
that chance. Ashley was too young to take a gamble like that.

I accepted that Ashley would have to go to prison, but I never accepted the 7-to-21 year
sentence. My husband and I immediately became advocates for Ashley and the repeal of the
Rockefeller Drug Laws. We worked tirelessly every day and until we finally got him out. Ashley ended up serving 4½ years in prison. In April 2008, he was granted early release through
a work release program. He‘s been home with us since August 2008. Even though Ashley
earned the right to get into the work release program, we did not count on it, because by
then, we knew how the prison system operated: easy to get into, but almost impossible to get
out. So we called on then Lieutenant Governor David Paterson and asked him to make a call on
Ashley‘s behalf, which he did. We were able to get an appointment with Lieutenant Governor
Paterson through our activism and political work and with the help of prominent people at the
Drug Policy Alliance.

The two boys were able to qualify for youthful offender status and get their records sealed.
Because their families are well-to-do, politically-connected people, they didn‘t spend one day
in prison.

—Cheri O‘Donoghue, FREE! Steering Committee member

17

The following information about the consequences of incarceration for non-U.S. citizens was taken from “Understanding the
Consequences of Criminal Charges,” prepared by The New York
State Defenders Association’s Immigrant Defense Project (February
2007) and may be out of date. You should always talk to a qualified immigration expert before agreeing to enter any plea or program.
My loved one is not a U.S. citizen. What will happen to him/her now?
As an immigrant living in the U.S., your loved one may want to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or an American citizen. However, being charged with a crime will
hurt their chances of this happening and can also create a risk of deportation regardless of how long s/he has lived in the U.S. or if s/he has legal status.
What kinds of criminal charges lead to immigration problems?
If your loved one pleads guilty or is convicted of a crime—a felony, misdemeanor, or
even a violation or other non-criminal offense—s/he may encounter immigration problems even if s/he does not spend any time in jail and/or only pays a fine. It is important to remember that not every plea and conviction leads to bad consequences for non
-U.S. citizens. Talk to an immigration lawyer to find out whether your loved one‘s specific case may lead to immigration problems. Don‘t just go by what someone else you
know says happened to them. Every case is different.
What if my loved one’s criminal charges were dismissed?
If your loved one has not pled guilty or admitted guilt to an offense and the charges are
subsequently dismissed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) generally cannot
use those criminal charges to deport or bar him/her from applying to become a lawful
permanent resident (LPR) or American citizen. Until your loved one‘s case is actually
dismissed, any contact with DHS officials—for example, travel outside the country,
Green Card renewal, or LPR/citizenship application—may cause problems because the
government might treat the case as still ―open‖ until the actual date of dismissal. For
this reason, it is important to ask for an ―adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.‖
18

If your loved one has pled guilty to an offense but is able to get their charge dismissed
by completing a court-ordered program (i.e. drug treatment), the charges will probably
still be considered a ―conviction‖ and could lead to deportation. Generally, if someone
pleads guilty or admits guilt in court and is given some kind of sentence or courtordered requirement, there can be negative immigration consequences.
My loved one is a lawful permanent resident. Can s/he still be deported?
Yes, generally anyone who is not a citizen of the United States can be deported as a
result of certain types of criminal pleas and convictions. There is the option of applying
for ―relief‖ from deportation depending on how long the person has been in the country, how long s/he has been a lawful permanent resident (LPR), and what types of offenses have been charged in the criminal case. To learn more information about the
risks, you should talk to an immigration lawyer.
My loved one is undocumented. How can a criminal plea or conviction
affect his/her status?
Undocumented individuals living in the U.S. can be deported just because of their lack
of valid legal documents. The DHS often questions people in jails and prison about
immigration issues, so any time that your loved one spends in jail—even if they are not
eventually convicted—puts him/her in danger of being placed in deportation proceedings if s/he is undocumented. However, even if your loved one is undocumented, there
may be a way to ―adjust‖ his/her status to become an LPR. The U.S. Congress is thinking about creating a new legalization program for undocumented immigrants. It is still
unclear whether people with certain criminal convictions will be allowed to apply.
What should my loved one do to protect his/her immigration status?
Your loved one should be very careful to obey all criminal and immigration laws since
any further arrests or interactions with the government may put him/her at risk of being put in deportation proceedings. If your loved one‘s criminal case is still going on,
ask to talk to an immigration lawyer right away—ideally before there is any acceptance
of a plea and before trial or sentencing. Be sure to tell your loved one‘s criminal defense
19

lawyer about the need to talk to an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer may be
able to help your loved one and his/her lawyer figure out a good plea, sentence, or
other outcome that will prevent negative immigration consequences.

20

Section 2:

My Loved One Has Been Sentenced. Now What?
Fear, sadness, frustration, confusion, anger: these may be just some of the
complicated emotions swirling around your head after finding out that your loved
one has been sentenced to time in jail or prison. In order for you and your loved one
to survive this difficult time, the first and most important step you must take is to
get educated about the struggle that lies ahead. Gather as much information as you
can in order to get in control. Learn how correctional facilities work, what rules
dictate how you can connect with your loved one, and
what your rights are.
Most importantly, remain hopeful and determined.
Do all that you can to keep yourself balanced so you
can really be there for your loved one. Get involved
with groups like FREE!. By connecting with family
members who have gone through what you are experiencing now, you can gain the support, strength,
and understanding necessary to make it through the
difficulties that lie ahead.

Anthony Dye

Be Your Loved One’s Best Advocate on the Outside
Being involved with the system isn‘t easy but it is what you have to do now. Write
and get letters of support from family members and community connections that
speak about your loved one‘s true character. These will be helpful for your loved
one‘s attorney or for submission to the parole board.

Get Your Loved One’s Identification
While your loved one is incarcerated, s/he is indigent (broke). It is important for
you to help him/her get all their identification documents in order. The counselor at
21

the correctional facility can assist with this. Otherwise, get ID as quickly as you can
upon release.
Birth Certificate
The cost is $15 for each certified copy. You will need to provide the following information to obtain the certificate: full name as listed on the birth certificate; sex (male or
female); date of birth; mother's maiden name (her last name prior to first marriage);
father's full name; hospital or street where birth occurred and the borough; your relationship to the birth certificate‘s owner; your
mailing address; and reason why you are requesting the certificate. Submit the application
to 125 Worth Street, Room 133, NY, NY, 10013.

―You

and your loved
one

should

get

and read a copy of the ―Jailhouse
Laywer‘s Handbook‖ [see page 91

Social Security Card
You can get a replacement card for free but will
need to provide proof of your loved one‘s identity and citizenship (birth certificate or pass-

of the Appendix] to be able to talk
to each other with your own
understanding and knowledge and

port). Or, when s/he is released, your loved one

not going by what you may hear.

can bring his/her facility release ID. To find out

Everyone‘s case is different, no

the location of your nearest Social Security

matter what the charges.‖

Administration (SSA) office, call 1-800-772-

—FREE! member

1213, Monday through Friday between the hours
of 7:00am and 7:00pm.
State-Issued ID
Since a picture ID and a social security card are required to obtain state ID, it is best for
your loved one to ask his/her counselor about obtaining this document immediately. If
your loved one is on parole, his/her parole officer can call the DMV and setup an
appointment under special circumstances.

22

Know the Difference Between a Jail, a Prison, and a Prison Ward
Knowing the difference between a jail, a prison, and a prison ward will better enable
you to deal with the procedures of the facility where your loved one is housed.
New York City jails, which are operated by the New York City Department of
Correction (DOC), house people 16 and older who, after arraignment in court, have not
been given bail or are unable to post bail. Jails hold people who have been sentenced
by the city to terms of up to one year; parole violators awaiting parole revocation hearings; and people charged with civil crimes.
New York State prisons, which are operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), are facilities that hold people sentenced for more than one
year for criminal convictions. People sentenced to terms of more than a year are held
on Rikers pending transfer to upstate prisons. There are also court holding pens
located in the Criminal, Supreme and Family Court buildings in each borough. In
Manhattan, an additional court pen is operated in the special Narcotics Court. These
courthouse facilities hold people scheduled for the day's proceedings.
Prison wards hold seriously ill people and those requiring intensive psychiatric
observation (for example, Elmhurst General Hospital, Kings County Hospital and
Bellevue Hospital, all operated by DOC). The North Infirmary Command on Rikers
Island houses detainees with less serious medical problems, incarcerated people with
AIDS not requiring hospitalization, and ―high security prisoners.‖
How can I locate a loved one being held in an upstate NY correctional
facility?
To find a loved one that is being held in a facility upstate, visit the following website to
look

them

up

by

their

full

name,

social

security

number,

http://nysdocslookup.docs.state.ny.us. You can also call 1-888-846-3469.

23

or

DIN:

How do I ask for help with my loved one’s case after sentencing?
FREE! works with the Office of the Appellate Defender, a not-for-profit indigent criminal defense organization that provides high quality, client-centered appellate and postconviction representation to individuals convicted of felonies in Manhattan and the
Bronx. For help in answering any questions about the appellate process, get a copy of
their ―Informational Guide for New Clients,‖ which is available in English and Spanish.
(11

Park

Place,

Suite

1601,

New

York,

NY

10007,

212-402-4100

www.appellatedefender.org.)
I’ve heard about fines and fees. What are they?
Prison is big business. DOCS collects more than $2.5 million annually in the form of
fees, fines and surcharges imposed by the courts from incarcerated people—folks who
earn an average of $1 a day. DOCS also collects nearly $15 million in their own fees.
These numbers do not include the $20 million in ―collect call only‖ telephone commissions paid annually to DOCS. Monies paid into commissary from family and from the
State for labor, gets paid right back to the State. Most of the attorneys can‘t even keep
track of the most common fees and surcharges.
Make sure that you ask your loved one‘s defense attorney to tell you what the financial
costs of the conviction will be. Families should be aware that these fees exist and ask
for reductions.
How is money collected from my loved one while s/he is incarcerated?
NYS DOCS Directive #2788 establishes the procedure for the collection of money by
prison officials to pay the obligations of the incarcerated person, including all of the financial penalties referred to above and judgments for child support payments, ―gate
money,‖ and work release room and board fees. When a new debt is established, all
money in the ―inmate‘s fund‖ is applied to collection. If there are insufficient funds
available in the ―inmate‘s fund‖ to pay off the debt, then all of the money that is in the
account is taken as payment.

24

The balance due on the unsatisfied debt (not paid during incarceration) is collected at a
rate of 20% of any money earned while working inside the prison and 50% of any
money sent into the ―inmate‘s
fund,‖ including any money sent
by family or friends for commissary. When two debts are owed at

"I feel

it is important to stay in
contact with your children

while they are locked up so they have a stream of

the same time, up to 40% of

positivity constantly flowing and to give them a

weekly earning and 100% of the

choice of hope happiness and comfort in a place

money sent

to

the ―inmate‘s

funds‖ from outside the prison is
collected. For people on work re-

where these things have been forbidden to exist.
So WE must keep it coming by phone, mail, visits,
packages, pictures. I wish I could visit my son,
but the distance and finances are a limita-

lease, after room and board costs

tion. My sons are 12 years apart, and the chal-

are deducted, 100% of their wages

lenges are the youngest idolizes his brother, and

are garnished if they have two or

I have to keep him grounded so he seeks the per-

more outstanding judgments, and

son not the behavior. I pray and try to reach and

20% if they have one.

teach them both on a regular basis."
—Rena

How do juvenile proceedings
differ from adult criminal proceedings?
Judges hear most juvenile cases because juveniles do not have a constitutional right to
a jury trial unless tried as an adult. Juveniles also do not have a right to a public trial or
to bail. Under most state laws, juveniles do not commit "crimes" but ―delinquent acts,‖
some of which would be considered crimes if committed by an adult.
How are juvenile proceedings similar to adult proceedings?
Due process applies in a juvenile proceeding just like in the criminal trial of an adult. A
child charged in a juvenile proceeding is entitled to: a notice of charges given in advance of any adjudication (judicial decision) of delinquency; an attorney, including one
paid for by the state if the family cannot afford one; the right to confront and crossexamine witnesses; and the right to assert his/her Fifth Amendment privilege against
self-incrimination. The state is required to prove its charges beyond a reasonable
25

doubt.
What is an adjudication hearing?
An adjudication hearing is the trial phase of a juvenile case. This means that the judge
hears the evidence and determines whether the child is ―delinquent.‖ The court may
then take whatever action it deems to be in the child's best interest. The purpose of
these proceedings is supposed to be to rehabilitate, not punish.
When are juveniles tried as adults?
Juvenile courts usually hear cases involving people between the ages of 10-18. If it is a
particularly serious or violent offense, the attorney may request an adult court trial.
What is a parent's responsibility in juvenile cases?
Depending on which state you live in, you might be ―liable,‖ or legally responsible, for
the acts of your child if you failed to supervise or control the child. In other words, if
your teenager has an accident or commits a crime while driving the family car, the
court may hold you responsible.

?

Did you know incarceration costs you and your loved one money. Check out how
the fines can add up:

John Doe was convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (an E felony), and operating a
motor vehicle with no insurance (a misdemeanor) after refusing a chemical test. He
was sentenced to 5 years probation. The financial consequences of his conviction included:
Mandatory fine (of no less than)
$1,000.00
•
Mandatory surcharge (felony)
$250.00
•
Crime
victim
assistance
Fee
$20.00
•
Probation supervision fee ($30.00/month)
$1,800.00
•
Fee
for
termination
of
license
revocation
$100.00
•
Surcharge for traffic conviction
$25.00
•
Civil penalty for no insurance
$750.00
•
Civil
penalty
for
chemical
test
refusal
•
with prior traffic conviction within 5 years
$750.00
Driver
responsibility
assessment
$750.00
•
Court-ordered ignition lock on vehicle
$2,175.00
•
TOTAL
$7,620.00
26

Section 3:

Staying Connected while a Loved One Is Behind Bars
Perhaps the single most important thing you will need to remember while your loved
one is behind bars are seven digits: the Department Identification Number
(D.I.N.), which is the prison equivalent of a Social Security Number. When our loved
ones are sent upstate,¹ they are immediately transformed from a person to an identification number in the eyes of the State. This number will serve as a constant reminder
of the time gone by and the time that remains. Make sure to
commit your loved one‘s D.I.N. number to memory! It will
follow him/her throughout his/her bid. You will need to
know it in order to visit, to send packages and mail, and to
find out where your loved one is located if s/he has been
transferred.
The transition to a state facility is never easy or complete: at
any given minute your loved one can be transferred farther
upstate or to a facility that has strict visiting rules or limited
transportation. The battle outside is similar to the one in-

Ras Mosi

side. Families have to stay strong and focused to survive this experience.
How can I cope with this crisis?
Organizations like FREE! were formed to address this very struggle, but there is no
one true solution for getting through this unreal separation. Family members bear
the burden of supporting themselves and their loved ones emotionally and financially
throughout this crisis. You may not be able to change the reality of living with a loved
one behind bars but you can prepare yourself for the struggle ahead. Don‘t be afraid
to ask questions and even when you think you know the answer, ask again!
¹Upstate is a common term referred to any of the New York State correctional facilities located in the northern and western parts of the state. It is also the name of a ―box‖ facility which houses incarcerated people with
discipline problems in 23-hour continuous lock-down cells.
27

Here are some useful tips to help you prepare
for the struggles ahead:

―When

a person goes
to prison, the

whole family goes. It was hard on all

Expect the Unexpected

of us, but it was especially hard on

Nothing is guaranteed in prison except time.

Antonia, Ashley‘s sister, who is 4

There is no guarantee that you will get to visit
or that you will get a full 30 minutes on the
phone. No one will promise you that your
loved ones will remain at a certain facility or
that s/he will be released on his/her condi-

years younger than Ashley. When
this all happened, she had two more
years of high school to go through
and was just starting to look at colleges as well. Although Antonia
missed Ashley a lot, she hated that

tional release date. You can‘t even say for

we had to drive so many hours to see

sure that your loved one will be pleasant when

him; that on a perfect summer week-

you receive a phone call or letter. Little is

end, we had to go to a horrible place

within your control, so control what you can:

to see Ashley. It seemed it took for-

you and your reactions. There are grassroots

ever to get there, and yet we had

organizing efforts you can seek out to to hold

such little time to spend with him.
It was difficult for me to see Anto-

the State and prisons accountable.

nia struggle with her emotions: glad
to see Ashley but angry at the people

Seek and Maintain Support
Family members should be encouraged to talk
about their loved ones despite the discomfort

who were holding him captive, and at
Ashley for being responsible in the
first place, for putting us through

they may feel about fact that they are incar-

this nightmare. To her credit, she

cerated.

didn‘t try to hide her feelings, but

It‘s a teachable moment and ex-

tremely empowering for families to do

sometimes I was scared that she

this. For example, if someone asks how you

would say something to one of those

are, you might respond, ―I‘m having a great

Corrections Officers that would

day. I just talked to my sister at Bedford and
it makes me feel good to hear her voice and
update her on how the family is doing.‖ You
don‘t have to feel alone or ashamed. This
guide was created to provide outlets for loved
28

cause an uproar, or perhaps shoot
them one of those looks she has,
that says it all. Those Corrections
(Continued on page 29)

ones to find the support to maintain a
positive lifestyle while dealing with the
incarceration of a family member.

(Continued from page 28)

Officers seem to look for things like that to
happen, the slightest thing, just so they can
assert their ―power‖ and cancel your visit.

Choose to Diffuse

We all struggled with our emotions. Often

Nine times out of ten, something will

times we‘d take Ashley‘s son, Anthony, with

happen that will anger your loved one

us to visit Ashley. He was about four at the

during the course of the day while s/he

time. At first I was worried a lot about it. I

is incarcerated. Likewise, when you

didn‘t want Anthony to be tainted by that

start to deal with the ―keepers of the

negative, depressing environment, but my

gate,‖ you will probably get angry too!
Here‘s where you have a choice: you
can act irrationally or you can diffuse
the situation by staying pleasant, positive and perky. If you freak out, you

heart overruled my head and we decided to
take him. In the end, we decided that it was
more important to keep Ashley and Anthony
connected so that their relationship could
grow. We wanted Anthony to know that
Ashley had not abandoned him, he just

give ―the gatekeepers‖ a reason to deny

couldn‘t be with him until he finished serving

you something—a visit, a phone call, a

his time. This turned out to be a good deci-

package, etc. If you remain cool and

sion for several reasons. Right now, our

calm, you have a far better chance of

grandson is temporarily living with us and

getting what you want. Do the same

they see each other on a daily basis. It‘s

with your loved one when s/he gets
angry!

Get to Know the Counselors
Yes, just like in high school, our incarcerated loved ones are assigned a coun-

important for a father and son to bond and
that‘s just what they‘re doing now, but in a
much healthier environment.
My husband and I had to keep in mind that
we had to be present for both our children,
as they are equally important to us. We love
them both so much. We wanted to reward

selor who is responsible for checking in

Antonia for doing the right things, excelling

with them periodically. These check-

in high school and eventually pursuing a col-

ins are few and far between but you,

lege education and we wanted to help Ashley

the outside connection, can work some

(Continued on page 30)

magic to get the counselor to check in
29

more often and give you information.
(Continued from page 29)

stay focused so he could get out of the hell

It is their job to help ensure the wellbe-

hole he was in so he could hurry up and join

ing of your loved one. The key is to be

the family again and start a new life.

very humble, very kind and very cooperative. Swallow your pride for a few

It‘s not easy when a loved one is in prison
because there‘s only so much you can say to
them over the phone or in the limited visit-

minutes and cooperate with this person, be appreciative of their time and

ing hours, but if you hang tough, stay com-

thank them over and over again for

mitted and keep that connection strong, it‘s

sharing information with you.

less likely that they will get lost in the system and more likely that they‘ll see what

Since my loved one has been in-

you see, the light at the end of the tunnel.

carcerated, I have heard so many

When a person knows they have family sup-

terms that I don’t understand.

port, it gives them a tremendous amount of
strength. It is this strength that can carry
them through until it‘s time to go home. We
never gave up on Ashley and never will. Let
your loved ones know you love them and that

What are some of the most common terms I should know?
This new environment that you are
now a part of is filled with words and

they can count on you to do everything in

phrases that make no sense to the out-

your power to bring them home. This is

side world but will become part of eve-

essential.‖

ryday life for those of us with loved
-Cheri O‘Donoghue
FREE! Steering Committee member

ones who are incarcerated. Here are a
few of the most important terms you
need to know:

A.S.A.T.: Alcohol Substance Abuse Treatment. An on-site drug program that incarcerated people are required to participate in if they are charged with drug-related crimes
or if they incur a drug-related infraction while incarcerated. It is a pre-requisite to be
deemed eligible for the Family Reunion Program or FRP (see below).
Bing/Box/Hole/SHU: Solitary confinement (as in ―Boot the SHU‖).
Bullet: One year sentence in city jail.
Draft: A transfer to another facility that happens without warning. The person may be
30

told the night before and required to pack immediately to leave one facility and transfer to another without notice.
Festival: A festival is a relaxed day, usually held in a maximum security facility‘s
gym or outdoor area, with food, music, and activities for the incarcerated person and
their visitor(s).
F.R.P.: Family Reunion Program. After approval by the State, some family members
can spend up to 48 hours in a private setting with an incarcerated loved one (see Section 4 to learn more).
Keep-locked: When an incarcerated
person is ordered to remain in his/her
cell for a set period of time due to an

―Be

on time, be clean and presentable, wear minimal jew-

infraction.

elry and be polite. Remember that visits

Max or Medium: Maximum or me-

are a privilege and not a right. Don‘t for-

dium security facility. Typically an in-

get where you are, and the fact that you

carcerated person‘s ―status‖ is dropped

will walk away from your loved one after

after serving approximately half of
their sentence, allowing them to move
to a facility with a lower security level.
P.C.: Protective custody, separate from

the visit, and he/she will have to stay.
During the visit period, you are at the
mercy of the correctional officer handling

the general population (or ―gen pop‖),

the visit room for that day. Watch what

for security reasons. Loved ones can

you wear, leave the jewelry, electronic de-

voluntarily request P.C. or it can be

vices, etc., at home. Represent for your-

automatically assigned due to the na-

self and make each visit the best it can

ture of their crime or high-profile

be. We can‘t emphasize enough how im-

status.
Tier 1 ticket: A ticket can be issued to
your loved one if s/he commits an infraction. These tickets vary in severity

portant it is to stay in contact with your
children on a regular basis. It is a good
idea to keep a log or journal of your phone

called ―tiers‖ according to the nature of

calls

and

letters,

especially

the infraction.

child(ren) do not or cannot visit.‖

if

your

—FREE! member
31

T.V. Facility: Certain maximum-security facilities allow incarcerated people to have
televisions in their cells. When this is the case, the incarcerated person is usually only
allowed to get two packages sent to them from outside twice a year. Non-T.V. facilities
allow incarcerated persons to receive one 35-pound package each month.
How can I send my loved one something in the mail?
If you are sending a letter, card, or package to an incarcerated loved one, make sure
that you have the ―inmate mailing address,‖ which is sometimes different from the
actual address of the facility. Also, be sure that your loved one‘s D.I.N. number is
written clearly on the envelope next to his/her full name.
There is no limit to the amount of written mail an incarcerated person can receive.
However, there are limits on quantity and types of pictures you can be send. Mail is
generally considered private but will be examined for possible contraband. Sometimes
mail is unfairly tampered with or withheld, so keep a record of what you‘re sending and
when so you can ensure your loved one receives it.

Can I send packages?
Incarcerated people housed in ―T.V. facilities‖ (i.e. Attica, Great Meadow) can only receive two packages of no more than 35 pounds from the outside per year. People in
―non-T.V. facilities‖ (i.e., Green Haven, Coxsackie, Clinton) are allowed one 35-pound
package per month.
Although there is a general outline of ―acceptable goods‖ defined by the Department of
Correction, it is always best to ask your loved one what is allowed at the specific facility
and what s/he would like to have. To be safe, you should call the facility and ask the
counselor what is acceptable. Facilities have different rules about what they will allow
in packages. Packages are often returned on account of the smallest detail. For example, in one max facility, lollipops are allowed, in another they are not allowed because
of the type of stick inserted in the lollipop. Perdue chicken strips that say they ―must be

32

frozen‖ might be returned while Tyson chicken strips that say they ―must
be refrigerated or frozen‖ will not.

―Back

in 2007 while I was
pregnant with our

first child, my boyfriend and I were making

Can my loved one use the phone

very bad decisions in our lives. We were

to call me?

young and weren‘t thinking clearly about our

People incarcerated in New York

futures at the time because we were trying

State can place only collect calls,

to survive. In March 2007 I gave birth to

which are more expensive and billed
separately from collect calls placed
outside, no matter what plan or provider you have. Many service provid-

our daughter and he was awaiting a prison
sentence for a mistake he made and was
facing up to three years in prison. He wound

ers, foster care agencies, foster par-

up getting a sentence of about 6 months and

ents and family members will not or

was locked up from May until about October

cannot accept the charges.² A 30

of 2007. During that time it was a constant

minute phone call costs approxi-

struggle for me to balance my life as a new

mately $3.60, plus tax.

first-time mother, being supportive of him,

Visiting Rikers Island
How many people can visit my

and taking care of the home emotionally and
financially without him. I remember the
first time I visited him it was so new to me

loved one at Rikers?

and I was treated like an inmate myself by

Up to three visitors are allowed at the

the correction officers. They would talk to

same time. Each person is entitled to

you any kind of way and wait for you to

three one-hour visits during the week,

spazz out so they can end your visit. Then

each on separate days, according to

you have to be searched and that was hu-

the visitation schedule.

miliating in itself. I didn‘t like the fact that
(Continued on page 34)

What kind of ID do I need to
bring with me?

²Reprinted courtesy of The Correctional Association of New York‟s Women in Prison Project.
33

Every adult visitor must present one form of
(Continued from page 33)

I had to wait in the lobby for three

valid identification containing a clear photograph and signature. Valid ID for a visit in-

to four hours just for an hour visit. I

cludes: employment ID, welfare card, drug

didn‘t like to but would bring my

program card, armed services ID, driver's

daughter with me to visit him at

license) or any other similar document with

least twice a week and the rest of

the visitor's signature on it.

the week I would have a sitter so I
could go see him alone. I hated being
limited to three visits a week with
him and I wrote him letters everyday
just so he could have his name called

Can children visit?
Children under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult (18 years or older) with
proper identification. A visitor that is 16-17
years-old may visit but may not act as an

at every mail call. I can remember

adult escort of a child under 16 unless both

being so drained but having to keep

the visitor and the person to be visited are

on for my child and making sure she

the parents of that child.

was good. I would hate being in the
visiting room with him and people sitting right next to us so there was no
privacy whatsoever. But the worst
part of it all was not being able to

What kind of ID is needed for children?
A birth certificate may be used as identification for a minor child but is not accepted for
an adult visitor.

kiss him or touch him. They set new
rules that you were able to kiss be-

What is the visiting schedule?

fore and after the visit. During the

Visiting schedules are organized alphabeti-

visit you had to sit with your hands

cally, according to last names of the incar-

on the table for the COs to see, but
I could only talk to him. I am grateful, though, that my baby was so
(Continued on page 35)

cerated individual.

There are no visits on

Mondays and Tuesdays. Fridays are open for
everybody to get visits (last names A-Z). The
visit calendar changes per month for
Wednesdays,
34

Thursdays,

Saturdays

and

Sundays.

(Continued from page 34)

young and that she won‘t remember
the trips. It was not easy for me at
all because she was so young and I
was alone. Sometimes our visits would

Visiting Upstate Correctional Facilities

Make sure to remember our four tips for
coping with crisis discussed earlier before

be cut short ‗cause she would be cry-

you decide to take a visit to an upstate cor-

ing so loudly that we would get

rectional facility because this ordeal may be

kicked out. But now I am very grate-

the closest thing to a crisis situation that you

ful for my life because we are all do-

ever experience! Depending on the particu-

ing better. My mom has moved up
here to be closer to the baby and me.
Her being here helps an awful lot,

lar facility, the day of the year, and the mood
of the gatekeepers, the rules are always subject to change.

and because of these things I could-

Visiting most upstate facilities is a 24-hour

n‘t be happier. So as they say, every-

ordeal which begins when you arrive at the

thing happens for a reason. I thank

bus pick-up location—usually between 9:00

God everyday for him not having to

p.m. and 2:00 a.m. depending on your final

do 3 years, and being able to learn

destination. Unless your loved one is lucky

from the mistakes, for the health of

enough to be in Sing Sing, the Sullivan hub

my family, and that we all live a long,
prosperous life.‖

-FREE! member

or the Green Haven hub, be prepared for an
unpleasant ride to a facility that may be at
least 3-4 hours away from your home. Most
busses make stops at several facilities, where
you are dropped off at the hospitality house

in the middle of the night or morning. You will usually arrive at your destination 5-6
hours later. The admission process for visitors usually begins around 9:00am with
visits ending by 3 p.m. The return trip is another 5-6 hours. Hopefully by then you
can get some rest!
Typically, your loved will be given a handbook with information about how visitors
can travel to the facility, including the names of bus companies, free bus dates, and
35

driving directions. There are also several bus and van companies listed in the Appendix
of this guide.
I’ve never visited a prison or jail before. What should I do?
Before you even make the trip, check the computer or call the facility to be sure that
your loved one is still at the facility and that it is an approved visit day. Make sure to
have a valid, state-issued picture I.D. with you. If you are bringing children, be sure to
always bring their birth certificates. You must have parental permission to take a child
(other than your own) into a correctional facility. This comes in the form of a notarized
letter from the child‘s parent or legal guardian. You will not be allowed into the facility
without it.
Make sure your loved one knows you are coming. If anyone is traveling with you, do
not exceed the number of visitors allowed (check with the facility to be sure).
You don‘t need anything on the visit but money, preferably change or singles for vending machines. Do not bring candy, gum, cell phones, keys, or pens.
Dress appropriately and cover up. (Air conditioning in the visiting rooms is usually
very cold!) It doesn‘t really matter what your loved one would like to see you in, it matters that you actually get in! So the best advice in any weather is to wear something
simple: jeans, a shirt or blouse with ¾ sleeves that isn‘t low-cut or see-through, a
watch, another piece of real gold jewelry and a simple hair-do.
Ladies: No lipstick, lip gloss, or fancy hair-dos with a bunch of bobby pins: you will
have to take them out. No underwire bras: you will have to take yours off. Take your
excessive jewelry off! All of those bangles and earrings will set the sensors off, delaying
your visit and everyone else‘s.
Gents: No hoodies, hats, extra ―bling‖ belts, or jewelry.

36

Section 4:

Maintaining and Building Intimate Relationships
Relationships in general are a rollercoaster of emotions that require the participants to
be fully invested in the process to keep the love alive. It is very hard to experience the
ups and downs that couples do when your loved one is incarcerated. Sometimes you
need to be able to work something out with your loved one. Time and time again, it will
hurt to realize that you can‘t do most of the things you want to because your partner is
incarcerated.
Let's get this example out the way first because it hurts. Be prepared that your loved
one might choose not to come home to you. Yes, it happens. He or she may very well
choose to be somewhere else after all those years
of faithful dedication, long trips to visit and commissary replenishment from you. Oftentimes
when the gates open, the person you have loved
all those years may decide to start a whole new
life.
Keep it real. You must understand that prison
changes people. Every aspect of a person‘s life

Larry Walker

that was ―normal‖ turns upside-down when they
are confined to a cell, forced to live at the sound of someone‘s orders. Therefore, the
relationship you may have had before is surely going to change now that your loved one
is incarcerated.
To keep the love alive, especially during long sentences, you need to have very tough
skin so that you do not internalize everything that the ―gatekeepers‖—your friends and
family and even your incarcerated loved one—will throw at you. You must be very
strong to make this last for any period of time.

37

Won’t I get special privileges because I am in an intimate relationship with
someone who is incarcerated?
So you‘re the partner? Well, writing that down on the visitation log won‘t make a
difference to the jail or prison staff! In some cases, it may actually work against you
and restrict your visitation seating. One of the many restrictions placed upon you when
you visit a prison or jail is ―no extended public displays of affection.‖ You will not be
allowed to spend your time kissing your lover for the next four hours! Sometimes it‘s
best to just list yourself as ―friend.‖ You may actually get to sit closer to your loved one
than if you reveal that you have some other sort of intimate relationship.
Can I marry my loved one while they are incarcerated?
Believe it or not, you have to request permission to be married. Yes, you have to ask the
―good‖ corrections people if you could please marry the person you love in their facility.
Once you are granted permission, you will need to have to have a ―counseling session‖
with them to make sure you know exactly who it is you are marrying. Here is the time the truth is revealed; they will inform you
of the true nature of the crimes your loved one has committed
(if you don‘t already know) and any other relevant information
they feel will inform your decision. When you get past the counseling session, you have to pay them $25 for the marriage services and then they will assign someone to perform your ceremony. This is the person
you will need to contact to arrange your wedding. Once you have planned things out,
contact your loved one‘s counselor to inform them of your wedding date.
Show up for your wedding on the scheduled visitation day. You can bring a witness or
use someone who‘s in the visiting room. You can bring gold wedding bands for the two
of you but there is a fee associated with this procedure, so check with the facility to find
out their rules. After you say ―I do,‖ you return to the visiting room as usual.
How can I have “alone time” with my loved one?
In maximum security facilities, the Family Reunion Program (FRP) allows spouses
38

and other immediate family members to spend 48 hours alone with their incarcerated
loved ones in special correctional facility housing. Not all persons are automatically
eligible for FRPs. These ―privileged visits‖ may occur every 45-65 days, depending on
behavior, eligibility, and other conditions. Permission is subject to change at the discretion of the correctional facility.
There is a long application process which requires that your loved one remain on excellent behavior through the duration of his or her sentence. Newly-married couples
have a waiting period (often 90 days) before the incarcerated person can ask to be a
part of the FRP program. The folks in Albany will correspond with your loved one
about their eligibility and then recommend programming that must be completed
prior to the FRP visit (i.e. ASAT).
You will be contacted by the prison staff to set up a ―home visit‖ to be sure that your
home life is ―suitable‖ and that you are a ―suitable‖ candidate for an FRP visit.
Basically, they come to try to get a feel for the person who‘s coming to visit, make sure
you live in a decent neighborhood and don‘t have drugs and alcohol lying around your
house. After another waiting process, your loved one will be contacted about the FRP
visit, if you have been approved. You will then be notified of the visit days, which occur at any time during the week. Weekends are sacred visits that are very rare.
My loved one was granted an FRP visit. How will it work?
You will be told what items you are allowed to bring on the FRP. Any unused items
cannot be taken home, so pack wisely. You will also be advised as to who and how
many family members can attend the visit with you. Partners have to be tested for
sexually transmitted diseases before the FRP. You cannot bring your own condoms to
the visit (imagine that!)—the facility will provide them.
On the day of the visit, you will typically have to arrive at 8 a.m. to be ―processed.‖
Afterwards, you will then be escorted to a trailer where you will wait for your loved to
arrive. Once you are finally together you will have 48 hours in a quaint little trailer on
39

the prison site. These trailers have most of the amenities of home: TV, radio, beds,
kitchen, etc., so you can enjoy some uninterrupted ―normalcy‖ for a change. Provided
that all goes well, no contraband is found, and your loved
one continues to remain on good behavior for the next few
months, you can count on getting another FRP visit!
Sounds pretty good, right? It seems that way, at least until
you‘re back at home all alone and frustrated that you cannot just reach over and hug your loved one or get a phone
call when you need one. Be sure to have the number of a
friend in your support network to call at times like these.

Laura Criscio

My relationship is becoming stressful and I feel
responsible for my loved one’s situation. What

can I do?
It is crucial that you remember to preserve yourself before you bow down to your loved
one‘s demands. Remember, this is ―love‖ we are talking about, not co-dependency and
manipulation, both of which can be very common in relationships, particularly one
strained by incarceration. Be sure that you learn the signs of co-dependency. It is easier
than you think to become a victim of co-dependency and/or manipulation. Make sure
you avoid signs of co-dependency so you can have a healthier relationship with your
incarcerated loved one. Here are some common warning signs:
An overwhelming sense of responsibility for the actions of others. (―If I didn‘t do
this, maybe he/she wouldn‘t be locked up.‖)
Confusing
love with pity. Make sure you aren‘t trying to ―love‖ someone by trying
•
to ―fix‖ or ―rescue‖ them. (―I know he/she will change—I just need to keep at it.‖)

• more than your share at all times (―I fill up the commissary, buy them new
Doing
shoes, go visit every weekend and they don‘t even call!‖)

• love with unhealthy dependence means you might do anything to hold on to
Confusing
a relationship to avoid the feeling of abandonment. If your loved one is verbally
abusive, has other ―intimate friends‖ who also visit regularly, or asks you to engage in
40

My Story:

illegal activities out of ―love,‖ watch out!

Marrying My Incarcerated Loved One

Here are things an incarcerated loved one
might say to you that are red flags of ma-

I am writing on behalf of women who
want to get married to their loved ones
while they are incarcerated. Please

nipulation:

• ―You just don‘t understand how this
place is stressing me out!‖

• ―You don‘t know what I go through in

don't let anyone one tell you that you

here everyday!‖

should not get married to someone in-

• ―You can‘t send me some money? I need

carcerated

some things from commissary!‖

because

that's

between

God, your spouse and you. Some may
say, ‗Why get married to a man in
prison?‘ Well there are many reasons
why women get married to their loved

• ―What? You can‘t sacrifice one weekend
to come see me?‖
When all of those things are said, it is very
easy to feel guilty about what you haven‘t

ones in prison and they should be for

done for your loved one since s/he has been

the right reasons. My husband has been

incarcerated. It is necessary to remember

incarcerated since January 2004 and

that it wasn‘t your actions that led to the in-

we were married on December 30,

carceration. However, your actions could

2005. We were planning to marry

provide a framework for your loved one to

regardless, but when this happened, we

make positive changes in his/her life.

knew it would have to wait. With further discussions, reading scriptures,
prayer and being real with one another,
we came to the conclusion that what
mattered most was that we loved each
other and it did not matter where we
got married, whether it be a church
(Continued on page 42)

41

(Continued from page 41)

wedding, backyard wedding, Donald Trump wedding, Preston Bailey wedding, or a prison
wedding. We are still legally married and it takes two to work at a marriage regardless.
We are each other‘s soul mates. We always communicate, trust one another, talk about
disagreements, and I can go on. Remember, life does not have to stop. You can still do
the same things. It‘s possible but it just may be different than what you wanted. It is
harder being married to someone incarcerated. It is not easy at all, but with God in your
life, daily prayer and staying busy and visiting your loved ones when you can—all of that
will help ease the pain. If I was still living the life and going out every night, I would not
be able to do it. Don't get me wrong, I hurt, I get stressed out, I cry, but I also talk
about it with him and pray to God always. Yes, I go out with my friends and have fun, but
there is a limit to my fun, due to the love that I have for myself and him and the commitment that I made. You see, I am 40-years-old and I have changed for the better. Please
remember: don't get married if you are not strong enough to handle it, because it is not
a game. You may think at first that you are strong, but it turns out that you are not. If
that happens, okay, fine, admit that, because we all make mistakes or decisions and can't
deal...God won't punish you for that.
—Mrs. Clark

42

Section 5:

What about the Children?
Incarceration is extremely disruptive for a family. There are many barriers that make it
hard to maintain strong family ties while a loved one is incarcerated. As a parent or
caregiver of children with an incarcerated parent, it is important that you are always on
the lookout for signs of emotional struggle or unusual behavior. Children of
incarcerated mothers will often move at least once and live with at least two different
caretakers while their mother is in prison. A majority of children with incarcerated
parents live apart from siblings.

All of this change and instability makes it very

important to communicate with your children while their loved one is incarcerated.
Just like you, children dealing with the stress and strain of having someone they love
behind bars need a lot of love, care, and support to help them survive this difficult
period.
My child’s parent just got incarcerated. What
should I say happened?
Each family has to struggle with this question of how to
tell a child such terrible news. We do not want to tell
you how to raise your children, or pretend that we have
all the answers. What we can say from experience is that
it‘s best to avoid lying to a child about where the parent
Ringo Harris

is. As an adult, you have the right and the responsibility
to make decisions about the best ways to help a child un-

derstand what‘s going on. Though it might seem easier to tell lies than the difficult and
painful truth, the reality is that it only gets harder to keep misleading a child as time
goes on. Your child will have questions, and the more that lies are told, the harder it
will be to ever get out of the cycle. Postponing the truth will not make it easier for a
child to cope with what‘s going on. In fact, keeping them away from the truth can make
it much harder for them to deal with the reality of the situation when that time
comes….and it does, eventually.
43

―Think

about the importance of
honesty

and

care

How does a child change
when a parent is incarcerated?

when communicating with your children about

Children

prison. Both of you should be on the same page,

parents

telling the child the same thing. Agree first what

anxiety, fear, loneliness, anger,

that will be and stay on the same page. Check in

and depression. They may be

often to see how your child is feeling and what

stigmatized and ostracized by

your child is thinking. There is no one way to
handle any situation, and without

judgment or

telling anybody how to raise children some good
advice is: Don‘t lie to your children and don‘t talk

with
can

incarcerated

feel

increased

classmates, lose self-esteem,
withdraw from relationships
with adults and peers, act out
in school, cut class, or get bad
grades.

Children

with

negatively about the person in prison – it can come

incarcerated parents also face

back to haunt you and it can seriously harm your

an increased risk of getting

child. Seek help from a program for children with

caught up in the criminal

incarcerated parents. There are so many issues to

justice system and substance

be addressed, the emotional issues that can scar
children inside: anger, frustration, loneliness, disappointment, embarrassment, secretiveness, lack
of coping skills, withdrawal from the family, de-

abuse.
Why is it so important for
incarcerated

parents

to

stay in touch with their

pression, stigma, and cruelty from other children

children?

or society, just to name a few. Encourage children

Children suffer a great sense of

to write letters. Work hard to maintain a family

abandonment when a parent is

balance: when one child is incarcerated and the

taken

other isn‘t or devoting attention to loved one

especially if that child has a

be-

hind bars and neglecting children in the home.‖
-FREE! member

away

from

them,

good relationship with the
incarcerated parent. The child
may feel lost, alone or betrayed. It is important that the

44

child has the opportunity to communicate with the parent to get the reassurance that
although the parent may have done something wrong and has to pay for their mistake, that the parent loves them very much and will, with the grace of God, return to
them.
What are meaningful ways to stay in touch and how can organizations help?

Phone calls and visits are expensive but letters and pictures are very affordable, intimate, and independent ways to keep in touch. Phone calls and visits are very expensive and can be a financial burden to caregivers. Organizations like as CHIPS and Hour Children help tremendously
with this service by transporting children and family members to facilities. Other organizations could get involved as
well.
How do you help siblings cope when the other sibling
is incarcerated?
It is important to let the child left behind know that although
Dwayne Murray

the incarcerated sibling is in prison, he or she still loves the

sibling(s) on the outside very much.

Communication is extremely important: en-

courage them to share their feelings as much as possible.
What can I do to help a child whose parent is incarcerated?
Take it one day at a time. Regardless of whether you‘re talking about small children,
teens, or adults, it‘s never going to be ―easy‖ for anyone in your family to cope with
the stress, strain, and pain of having a loved one behind bars. Good communication
and lots of attention can help you understand what a child is going through a little
better. Just like adults, children of any age may not always have the vocabulary or the
self-awareness to tell you point blank what they need to help them survive this
struggle. But if you do your best to always be there for the child, take the time to
answer their questions, ask them often how they are feeling, and spend as much
quality time with them as possible, you can help them develop a healthy routine in
45

their lives to make it through this experience.
We know that it can be hard to find the hours in the day to deal with the issues your
loved one is facing inside, while doing what you have to do to make a living, keep
yourself sane, and keep your family strong. As much as you can, try to make sure that
you do not devote all your attention to the loved one who is incarcerated: if you do,
you will neglect the needs of the family members who are on the outside. Balance is
key for everyone to make it through this.
My emotions are all over the place. Is it OK to vent to my children?
It is very important to take care of yourself throughout this experience; you cannot be
helpful to anyone else if you are not paying attention to your own needs. Seek out
support from family, neighbors, or join groups like FREE! to connect with others who
have or are going through similar experiences. We do not recommend that you ―vent‖
to the children about their parent, even if the child is older. As much as you may feel
hurt or angry by the situation a loved one is in, venting your emotions of anger,
resentment, disappointment, and blame can only hurt and confuse a child struggling
to cope with this difficult experience. Remember: children learn how to think, feel,
and behave by watching the adults in their lives. What you say will play a major role
in shaping a child‘s understanding of what is going on.
My child does not want to talk about his/her feelings. What can I do?
It is very common for anyone going through stress to withdraw from the people
around them. Encourage a child behaving this way to try writing letters to their
incarcerated parent or draw them pictures. This sort of activity can help a child feel
more comfortable expressing feelings they may be too shy or scared to say out loud.
But instead of ―ordering‖ a child to do an activity like this, lead by example. Try doing
the activity along with them and explain why it helps you feel better. Invite them to
do it with you. Not only will you be encouraging the child to have more communication with their incarcerated parent, you will also be establishing a loving activity that
the two of you can do together. Remember to be patient. No one in the family is going
46

Can my child visit an incar-

“Due to

cerated parent whenever they

knew the day we got the phone call that he

want to?

was arrested that it would not just be

Each facility has their own rules.

dismissed. At the time, we were trying to

Check with the facility where your

get him into a program because he went

loved one is located to learn what

back to drugs and alcohol. Finding out he

to figure out how to cope overnight.

their visiting policy is for children.
Can a child visit an incarcerated
parent without supervision?

my

husband‘s

prior record I

was arrested took away any hope we had
that things would get better. My two
children, ages fourteen and three at the

It all depends on the age of the child.

time, both took it very bad. My fourteen-

Check with the facility you want to

year-old felt scared for him, hurt and angry.

visit to learn their rules.

He was her stepfather but she loved him as
her own because he was there for her every

My child is going to visit his/her
incarcerated parent for the first
time. What should we expect?
It‘s difficult to predict exactly how a
child will react but you can imagine

day over the past four years. Our threeyear-old daughter in common could not
express the abandonment. She became very
clingy, afraid I would leave next. She had

that their feelings will probably be

nightmares and had angry outbursts. They

similar to yours: a mixture of sadness,

both acted out and I was scared for them

fear, helplessness, and shock. It‘s a

and where this emotional upset would lead

good idea to pay a visit a loved one

them. I was forced to go on welfare and the

who is incarcerated without children

house that we shared with my sister had to

first, so that you know what to expect
yourself and are better able to control
your own emotions and stay strong
for the child. It‘s also a good idea to

go up for sale because we could not afford
to keep up with the bills. I was never more
scared in my life, mostly because my
(Continued on page 48)

talk to the child before the visit to
47

explain what they will see when they ar(Continued from page 47)

rive to help make the experience a little

children now only had me to depend on.

less frightening.

Some people I knew would act very

What can a mentor do for a child

concerned about what happened to my

whose parent is incarcerated?

husband and I would open up and be

Mentors, often recruited from houses of

honest with them only to find they were

worship, community organizations, and

just being nosy. Others just treated us

civic groups, can help to bolster kids' re-

differently after they found out that

lationships with their parents and sup-

my husband was arrested. Needless to

port families while they are struggling

say, the whole world seemed to fall all on

with all of the pain of having a loved one
behind bars. They can help children con-

me and I wanted to run. The only thing

nect with incarcerated parents through

that kept me grounded was my kids and

letters, phone calls, and prison visits.

not knowing what might happen if I

Mentoring alone is not going to be

bailed out on them.

enough for every child, so it needs to be
combined with other sorts of support and

Because my husband was straight and

services.

living as a responsible and dependable
person for the last five years, we had no

What if my incarcerated loved one
is the primary caregiver of a minor

safety net when this happened. I had no

child? Can s/he lose custody of the

warning or way of preparing; one day he

child?

was gone. I felt helpless and I do not

Under New York‘s Adoption and Safe

like feeling helpless especially if I have

Families Act (ASFA), the foster care

to stay in a situation….I then looked

agency is almost always required to file a

around and saw what I was left with to

proceeding to terminate parental rights if

have to try to make better. My children

a child is in foster care for 15 of the last

were my first priority. I put my older

22 months. (The median minimum sen-

(Continued on page 49)

tence for women in New York State pris48

ons is 36 months and ASFA makes no
exceptions for incarcerated parents.)
Under ASFA, if an incarcerated par-

(Continued from page 48)

daughter and myself in therapy to help deal

ent, as the primary caregiver, does

with it all. My older daughter began to do

not maintain consistent contact with

better and stopped doing self-destructive

their child or if they fail to adequately

things. The therapist helped me handle my

―plan for the future‖ of the child, then

three-year-old and I let her cling to me as

child welfare can make the case that

long as she needed until she was assured

the child is abandoned or permanently neglected and file a proceeding to terminate parental rights. After
parental rights are terminated, par-

that I was not leaving. The nightmares
stopped and her temper is still being managed. I encourage both of them to keep

ents have no legal relationship with

open and express what they feel….They

their children; they are legally consid-

have not seen their father in a while now

ered a stranger to their children and

and he has become a part of the system. He

are not permitted to have any contact

shut down and shut us out, something I

with them.

feared he would do so that he does not have

What happens if my loved one is
pregnant at the time she is
sentenced?
Bedford Hills and Taconic have the

to deal with the pain. I know I have a long
road ahead of me with them both, but as
long as I stay on top of them, by the grace
of God, we will be okay.‖
—Kelly Busso-Fisher, FREE! member

capacity to house approximately 29
and 15 mothers and their infants, re-

spectively. Several aspects of a woman‘s past are examined before she can participate
in these nursery programs. Some factors are: who is going to have custody of the
child; the mother‘s history with child welfare systems; the length of her sentence; her
incarceration history, and the nature of her crime. Women who have committed arson
or who have a history of child abuse are not eligible for the nursery. A woman must
give birth while in custody to qualify for the program.

49

What about child support?
In New York, incarcerated parents must continue to pay child support during their
sentence. It is very common for incarcerated parents to fall behind on child support
payments because they cannot earn any real income. This can cause lots of stress and
strain on your family. To get the most accurate information about the child support
system, contact your local Division of Child

Support Enforcement (https://

newyorkchildsupport.com/home.html or call 1-888-208-4485. Encourage your incarcerated loved one to discuss these responsibilities with a counselor.

Justice for Incarcerated Mothers
In May 2009, the Anti Shackling Bill (S.1290/A.3373-A) was passed. It ensures that
women in labor will not have to endure the health risk and the indignity of being
shackled as they bring their newborn into this world. It prohibits state and local
correctional authorities from using restraints on an incarcerated pregnant female
who is being transported for childbirth, during labor and delivery, and in post-natal
recovery. An exception to this rule is made when restraints are determined to be
necessary to prevent the woman from injuring herself, or medical or correctional
personnel. In these instances, a pregnant woman may be cuffed by one wrist.

Does anyone care about the welfare of children with incarcerated
parents?
There are many good organizations out there committed to helping children cope
with having an incarcerated parent. Flip to the Appendix section of this guide to find
the names and contact information for some of these organizations.
In 1996, several hundred children from around the world drafted The Children of
Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights to address the many ways that the criminal justice
system has neglected the needs of children who have a parent in prison or jail. The
bill lists the rights that all children have so that they can grow up free from abuse,
thrive in the world, and participate in shaping their futures.

50

Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights
1. I have the right to be kept safe and informed at the time of my parent‘s arrest.
2. I have the right to be heard when decisions are made about me.
3. I have the right to be considered when decisions are made about my parent.
4. I have the right to be well cared for in my parent‘s absence.
5. I have the right to speak with, see and touch my parent.
6. I have the right to support as I struggle with my parent‘s incarceration.
7. I have the right not to be judged, blamed or labeled because of my parent‘s
incarceration.
8. I have the right to a lifelong relationship with my parent.
To get an informational booklet, you can call 209-938-0727 or write to:
Friends Outside
2540 Pacific Avenue, #8
Stockton, CA 95204

51

Section 6:

Healthcare
Health care for the incarcerated is either completely absent or extremely limited: quality varies from facility to facility. As far as your loved one is concerned, it is truly better
to think as if healthcare in prison does not exist. This approach will arm you with the
perspective necessary to fight for your loved one‘s health and safety.
Are health conditions bad in jail and prison?
Yes, health care in the jail and prison is very poor. There are several areas of extreme
concern in New York‘s jails and prisons. Family members of the incarcerated should
be aware of the current spread of infection and available treatment for HIV and Hepatitis in the correctional facilities.
Is HIV a serious problem?
In a 2001 study by the Department of Correction (DOC) and activist groups including
the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP!), it was determined that approximately
7,000 people are known to be living with HIV in jail or prison. One can only imagine
that this rate has increased, partially due to the fact that condoms cannot be distributed in prison and homosexual intercourse and prison rape does occur.
Most incarcerated people living with the virus have at best limited access to required
medications. A man who suffered from HIV while incarcerated in Sing-Sing had to
choose each morning between showing up for his HIV medications or showing up for
breakfast. While most of us can afford to skip a meal, if he did his medications would
make him sicker. He had no one to advocate for his care.
HIV infection in the criminal justice system is a problem for our entire society. Like
the vast majority of incarcerated individuals, those who are HIV-positive return home
eventually and may infect their loved ones, thus continuing this deadly cycle of rapid
disease spread, if they do not understand the virus—or know they have it.
52

What about Hepatitis?
There is also a high rate of Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-C infections among the prison
and jail population. According to a report published by the Department of Correction
(DOC) in 2003, approximately 1 in 7 incarcerated people are infected with Hepatitis-C,
and more females than males. The Center for Disease Control requires that all incarcerated people be tested for Hep-C and, upon diagnosis, receive treatment. Through the
Hepatitis-C Continuity Program, formerly incarcerated people can receive continued
treatment once they are released from prison (Prison Safety in New York, 2006).
What can I do to protect my loved one’s health while s/he is incarcerated?
The NYS Department of Correctional Services webpage provides important information for those advocating for their loved one‘s health (www.docs.state.ny.us/
directives.html).
First, establish clear communication with your loved one about any illnesses or symptoms s/he has and any medications s/he takes. Be sure to write down what you learn.
Have your loved one record the dates and times s/he requests a ―medical call-out.‖
Second, be sure that you or someone with a direct family relationship to your incarcerated loved one—parent, spouse, sibling, etc.—has made contact with his/her counselor.
This person will be your first line of defense whenever your loved one is sick and you
need answers. If your loved one has a medical problem that you are aware of, it is advisable to call the facility as soon as your loved one arrives, locate his/her counselor,
introduce yourself, state your concern, and have them take note of your loved one‘s
condition.
Third, have your loved one complete a HIPPA form (see the Appendix) and give it to
his/her counselor. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself. Although it may not always
be useful, it can help you provide the leverage you need to get specific information
about your loved one‘s condition.

53

Fourth, know the numbers to various state agencies in Albany as well as the treatment
facilities your loved one may be taken to for outside treatment. Be familiar with the
New York State Department of Health and Department of Mental Health and have
their contact information handy. If your loved one becomes sick, you need to advocate
for him/her to receive the needed treatment. This means making phone calls and writing letters to everyone involved—the counselor, the Superintendent, the Commissioner
of Corrections and various health directors in the state offices. You need to make your
voice heard in order to get your loved one the care s/he needs and deserves.
My incarcerated loved one is transgender. What resources are out there
to help us?
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) works with transgender people in prison and in
jail (www.srlp.org or 212-337-8550). Queers for Economic Justice is a progressive
non-profit organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation (www.q4ej.org or 212.564.3608).
My incarcerated loved one is mentally ill. What can I do?
Understanding mental illnesses is a challenge to those who are expertly trained in the
field but even more challenging to correctional officers who usually don‘t have any specific training to develop the awareness to properly handle these issues. This often leads
to incarcerated people with mental illnesses being placed in Solitary Housing Units
(―the SHU‖), a 23-hour solitary lockdown unit also known as ―the box.‖ Because of the
punitive nature of solitary confinement, mentally ill individuals can suffer for long periods of time without their needs being recognized because their ―bad behaviors‖ overshadow their illness.
Thankfully, in New York State, several agencies that make up the Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement (MHASC) coalition, which is currently working to
abolish solitary confinement in state prisons by advocating for the passing of legislative
bill S333/A4870, which would put a stop to the endless confinement of mentally ill
prisoners. Rights of Incarcerated People with Psychiatric Disabilities (RIPPD) is an54

―My husband

other grassroots organization that was
founded by people with psychiatric disabilities to fight against the injustice in the

Don has throat cancer and I‘ve been

prison systems, to find alternatives to incar-

fighting DOCS for months to get him

ceration and to advocate for better mental

treated. Well, good news: now he‘s at

health care in New York State prisons.

Westchester hospital, starting radiation treatment and chemo. The

Your requests for mental health information

doctor there has been so help-

should be addressed to the Satellite Mental

ful. DOCS wanted to have my hus-

Health Unit of the facility where your loved

band transported everyday for 7

one is located and sent to the attention of

weeks, cuffed and shackled, back and

the Unit Chief. If the facility does not have a

forth from Greenhaven to the hospital with a breathing tube in him and a
feeding tube. I complained to the
warden and Albany and everyone I
could, threatening lawsuits if any-

mental health presence, the request should
be forwarded to:
Office of Mental Health
Bureau of Forensic Services
44 Holland Ave.
Albany, NY 12229

thing happened to my husband during

My incarcerated loved one has a

transport with NO medical staff in

substance abuse problem. What sort

the van. Now they will be keeping

of treatment can s/he get?

him at the hospital for the whole 7

There are a number of "treatment" programs

weeks. I am so relieved. The doctor
said the radiation and chemo will
work well, so he won't lose his voice

documented in the New York correctional
facilities. Each of these programs is designed
for specific individuals, have certain criteria
that the incarcerated person must meet to

box, and he'll be good as new soon

qualify for entry and are only available in

again!‖

certain facilities. For more information on
—Maria Ferrin, FREE! member

the

nature

of

these

programs,

www.docs.state.ny.us/ProgramServices.
55

visit

What happens if my loved one

Mama’s Gone:

passes away while incarcerated?

Dealing with Death and Incarceration

Facilities are required to report a person‘s death to the Commissioner of
Corrections within six hours of the

Cynthia Hill was something like an enigma; a

death and provide a detailed report of

proud, strong African-American woman who

the circumstances. Family members

raised three children while permanently

and people formerly incarcerated agree

bound to a wheelchair. I was always afraid

on this fact: Something needs to be

to ask Moon how his mother ended up in the

done to create a transparent procedure
for the handling of the death (expected
or sudden) of a loved one while incarcerated. Sadly, we've heard too many
stories like this one: "I seen ladies die,

wheelchair, paralyzed from her waist down,
but curiosity burned my insides.

I loved

Cynthia like a thorn loves a rose, but I loved
her as if she were my very own mother.

get picked up by an ambulance from
the outside hospital, and after that all

A month had passed when I realized I

information is kept secret. Also when

hadn‘t spoken to her. Then the phone rang

that happens, officers take the time to

and my sister-in-law called to say, ―Ma is in

listen to phone conversations coming in—and they place the person who
called the family or relatives of the
loved one who died in the SHU.

the hospital…‖ The pregnant pause at the
end of that sentence meant this time was
unlike any other. Then came the question:

So, nobody takes the chance to call and

―Who would tell Moon?‖ He was her only son

talk about the incident.‖

and he was serving a 15-to-life sentence at
Five Points. How would he react? Should we

Someone in our family is nearing

tell him in person? Should we write a letter?

death. Can my loved one visit

Would we wait until we knew more or tell

them?
There is actually some humanity to the
whole notion of prisons regarding the

him now that something was wrong? What
do you do when the one you love is locked
(Continued on page 57)

death of a close family member. Ac56

cording to DOC Directive #4206, the in(Continued from page 56)

carcerated are allowed to make a deathbed

up?

visit or attend a memorial for their loved
one. To do this, contact the facility where

I spent nights with a knot in my stomach

your loved one is and ask the chaplain to

trying to reason through this madness –

notify him/her of the ill person‘s state. The

if I tell and nothing happens, did I screw

chaplain will arrange to meet with your

up? If I don‘t tell and something hap-

incarcerated loved one to discuss what has

pens, did I screw up? I went to Cynthia‘s
bedside and held her hand and she read
my thoughts before I uttered a word,
―tell him I‘m sick but I‘ll be okay.‖

happened. As the family, you must provide
information about the ill person including:
the name and location of the hospital or
funeral parlor, and the relationship between your incarcerated loved one and the
terminally ill person. The facility will ver-

The journey to Five Points was ex-

ify the information. Often times, they will

tremely long that Saturday; the visit be-

allow your loved one to make one family

came a blur. I walked into the facility

phone call. Next, the family must decide if

and told a lie that even I believed, ―Ma is
sick but she‘s going to be okay and she‘ll
be home soon…‖ Ma shrunk from a
healthy, robust woman to an emaciated
figure that resembled a child; something

they want a ―bedside‖ or ―funeral‖ visit.
90% of the time, when these procedures
are followed carefully, DOCS will arrange
for your loved one to be transported to the
hospital or funeral home, accompanied by
DOCS officers.

had gone terribly wrong. We now had a
troubling decision to make – should Moon
make the journey home to be by her
bedside in those last hours or should we
wait for the funeral?

(Continued on page 58)

57

(Continued from page 57)

When your life is wrapped up in the DOC there‘s not much time or space to negotiate;
there‘s a small window of ―opportunity and kindness‖ that you can seize in a time of
trouble. We contacted the prison counselor to tell him what was happening, contacted
the prison chaplain to say that my mother had only a few hours left and could my husband come home; then my sister-in-law made the difficult decision to ask that he
come home after Cynthia passed, which split the family apart.

Cynthia held on long enough for all of the loose ends to be tied; but she wouldn‘t let go
without a word from her baby boy – and then the call came…On Wednesday night the
chaplain from Five Points called to say that Moon had asked to call his mother, ―Was
this Cynthia Hill?‖ In the next few breaths, Moon spilled his soul to his mother, and
she did the same. She reminded him to take care of us – Ronnie and Denise – and be
strong for us, to do the right thing and come home soon…And then she let go.

The days started to weave together with no beginning or end as you work with the
DOC at their mercy to bring your loved one home; series of phone calls to counselors
and chaplains and funeral homes and endless faxes and numbers exchanged to verify
the end of a life and baited breath waiting, waiting, waiting, WILL HE COME HOME?
Death exists on a DOC timeline and as outsiders you must coordinate your life to the
last minute to ensure that everything falls into place. You do not know the exact time
that your loved one will arrive home so you live within a window of hope. Cynthia‘s wake
was from 1 pm to 4 pm with the funeral immediately following, therefore as a safety
precaution, we could only know that Moon would be home at some point during the day.

We woke at the crack of dawn awaiting his arrival, waiting for the call from the DOC.
(Continued on page 59)

58

(Continued from page 58)

Finally around 1:30 we were alerted by the funeral home that the DOC had called and
they would be sweeping the premises before Moon arrived. We made a mad dash to
get to the funeral home and stood outside waiting for him to arrive. Minutes later the
green van pulled up, the facilities were swept and for one moment in time the shackles
disappeared, and my family was together again. Even though there were two armed
officers by the door, it was as though we were back at 193 Albany Ave. and Cynthia
was still with us.

Time passed so quickly, the daydream ended, the shackles became real and we had to
let go. We had to let him go back, as we had to let Cynthia go back to her maker. I
never felt so much loss at one moment as I felt that day. As I stood on the sidewalk
with my arms wrapped around my stepson, watching the officers help Moon back into
the van, lighting his Newport for the 5 hour ride, I felt a love unlike any other as the
tears rolled down all of our faces, there was one intricate drop that fell into a stream
of hope that one day, one day, we would all be FREE!…
—Denise Barnes, FREE! Steering Committee member

59

Section 7:

Rights of the Incarcerated?
Things that Can Happen without Anyone’s Consent…
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof
the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist with the United States, or any
place subject to their jurisdiction…”
—13th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Simply stated, the conditions of imprisonment are equivalent to a form of slavery.
The incarcerated have limited rights because they are considered ―State property.‖
Many injustices occur ―behind the wall‖ and only when informed advocates pay attention and take action—or in the case of the Attica Riots, when the incarcerated stand up
for simple human rights—will conditions improve in the prison industrial complex.
My loved one was just transferred and we had no idea this was planned.
Can that really happen?
Stability for our incarcerated loved ones is a joke; at any given time they can be transferred without prior notice. This process is known as ―the draft.‖ Generally, the incarcerated are sent on ―the draft‖ after a disciplinary incident (tickets) or if there is a conflict (or a potential conflict) with another incarcerated person. The corrections officers
will approach the individual in their cell and tell them to pack their belongings in plastic bags. They are not ―allowed‖ to notify family members of their future location for
safety reasons. For this reason, most incarcerated people will ask each other to call
their family members and tell them that they are being transferred.
My loved one was transferred. How can I find out where s/he is now?
Family members can generally find out their location prior to their loved one‘s arrival
at a new facility using the NYS DOCs Inmate Locator at: www.docs.nys.

60

How do transfers work?
Incarcerated people are also eligible for ―transfers‖ based on periodic good behavior,
usually after 6 months to a year. A request can be made to the counselor for the incarcerated person to be sent to another facility within the ―hub‖ or group of prisons in one
area. An incarcerated person can request to be sent to a small choice of facilities. Requests are not guaranteed: they are based on availability and other factors. The person
will generally end up at an equivalent facility within the same hub. After several years
in prison, your loved one‘s classification may change, which makes them eligible to
move to a less restrictive environment (from a maximum to a medium security facility,
for example). This is also considered a transfer.
What is a hardship transfer?
Family members can petition the state for a ―hardship transfer,‖ which may or may not
be granted. These transfers are sometimes granted under dire circumstances, such as:
the sole visiting family member has a severe disability and is immobile; the visiting
family member is elderly; or the visit would put extreme undue stress on the family
member to travel, etc.
If you decide to petition for a hardship transfer, a sincere, heartfelt letter should be
sent to the Department of Inmate Movement and Classification (NYS Department of
Correctional Services, Bldg. 2, 1200 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12226-2050), so
you have a far better chance of being heard. You need to know how to plead your case
and make a very thoughtful argument for the transfer. You will not be notified directly
of any transfers, but if your loved one is moved closer within a reasonable amount of
time, you may have had a hand in the transaction.
Does prison abuse happen?
Abuse by officials inside prison is generally labeled the same way as abuse by police officers outside of prison: ―self-defense.‖ The case is made that the individual is resistant,
or violent and therefore needed unnatural force to yield submission.

61

We recall a visit where a young man was alleged to have received drugs from his
mother on the visiting floor; after a few minutes corrections officers streamed out of
every possible door to the visiting room, some wearing black gloves, the different colored shirts indicated the higher ranking officers and they all descended on the bathroom the young man had entered. Seconds later, screams from the bathroom penetrated the visiting room; there were loud thumps against the wall and the screaming
continued, soon the officers walked out with bloody shirts and inmate porters had to go
in to clean up the mess. The young man‘s nose had been broken and eyes were blackened as they ―searched‖ him for drugs.
Water torture may have disappeared from New York State prisons but the quiet little
secret of prison abuse is still rampant in the Department of Corrections. Folks who
have spent time in Attica talk about an ―alleged Black Hand‖ sect of officers who have a
different set of rules than your everyday correctional officers. In Sing Sing, inmates in
―the Box‖ are sometimes placed on ―the Loaf‖ diet when they continue to misbehave –
and yes that‘s bread and water…
While there are several statistics about violence between incarcerated people, or incarcerated folk and guards, there seem to be no visible records of the number of attacks on
our incarcerated loved ones by prison guards.
What is solitary confinement?
The starkest form of abuse inside New York State prisons is the extensive use of the
Solitary Housing Unit (SHU), better known as ―the Box.‖ In New York State there are
several ―Box‖ facilities that are strictly for inmates with disciplinary infractions; among
those are Five Points, Southport and Upstate. Currently New York State has over 5,000
inmates housed in the SHU with indiscriminate sentences.
The theory behind the SHU, according to a 2006 DOCs report, is that ―the general public and the general population of inmates‖ are being protected from unnecessarily violent individuals. The thinking goes that the very thought of the solitary confinement
62

will force ―violent‖ folk to become better behaved individuals. It‘s a little ironic to think
that when 2 ―violent‖ individuals are locked down in a 5‘ x 9‘ cell for 23 hours a day—
only sometimes afforded a shower and given little or no privileges—that they will somehow become better citizens.
People held there can be confined to a 5‘ x 9‘ cell for 23 hours a day, restricted from human contact with the exception of the occasional visiting correction‘s officer. They are
allowed a once-a-week visit with someone from the outside and one hour a day dedicated to physical activity that takes place in a small ―pen‖ outside of the cell. In some
facilities incarcerated men and women are on a ―behavior modification system‖ where
―privileges‖ are restored as time passes and the inmate ―proves‖ to be worthy of basic
amenities (Lakeview Shock).
Currently there is a campaign to ―Ban the SHU‖ (www.bantheshu.org) because several
men and women have died while in the Box due to inadequate care. We found the this
story in a report compiled by the Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement
(MHASC) group and from my personal experiences with a loved one in the SHU, we
can attest that these allegations are not exaggerations!
―Many incarcerated people believe that their food is sometimes tampered with when
they are in the SHU so they either do without or resort to alternative diets to receive
‗shrink-wrapped‘ food that has no evidence of tampering. Sometimes when incarcerated folk are sent to the SHU—which happens without a lot of time to prepare for departure—their belongings are left unsupervised in their cells, where they can be stolen
or damaged: ―In the following weeks, I was able to learn more about the charges and
was allowed to review the property that was forwarded in my name. Most of the property belonged to someone else, and mine was declared missing. I was told there was
nothing that could be done. I eventually filed a claim, which the court threw out for
failure to serve the opposing party—but I know that was definitely done.‖
―Recreation consisted of a possible hour standing in a cage behind the cell looking out
63

into nothingness, or watching other inmates perfect their skill at fishin‘ for contraband. The one hour allotted to us was to get some cold fresh air in our lungs, which
was very different from the many smells attributed to two angry strangers who barely,
if ever, considered the feelings of the other cellmate. If an inmate was not standing at
his cell door at chow time, he lost the opportunity to eat that meal. Showers were
given for ten minutes every three days. Shaves and haircuts requiring the use of clippers were once every two weeks, for ten minutes. And though there were radio plugs
in each cell, first-level inmates were not allowed to be entertained. There were three
levels of punishment in the SHU 200. The first level basically deprived you of everything except what you were given when you first went in. The second level was given
to you after thirty days, which allowed you to get a pair of
headphones and a commis-sary sheet for cosmetics (real
soap, lotion, writing pads, etc.). After thirty more days of
what was considered good behavior, a person could
graduate to the third level, where he would be allowed to
receive a pair of sneakers and shorts to walk around in
and magazines and books to read. If he was chosen to be
of minimal concern, he might well be given the opportunity to work as a porter and clean the halls, or cut the other inmates‘ hair. The only
good thing about the SHU‘s 200 boxes was that many standard violations by officers
were curtailed because of the cameras.‖¹

¹© 2005 by Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement.
64

Section 8:
Homecoming
With the way sentencing is these days, if there is a release date for your loved one then
there is hope for another chance. It‘s so important to do the work necessary to prepare
for this homecoming while your loved one is in prison and not wait until a month or
two before his/her release date to start making all the necessary plans and preparations. As long as the road may feel until their release, use this time wisely: make calls,
get connected. That‘s what folks mean by the saying ―do the time, don‘t let the time do
you.‖ This phrase doesn‘t only apply to your incarcerated loved one; the same applies
to you as a family member as well.
My loved one is going to go before the Parole Board. What should we
expect?
After serving the minimum term of a sentence, your loved one is automatically scheduled to make his or her first Parole Board appearance. The Board examines your loved
one‘s institutional adjustment, disciplinary record, earned eligibility status, and criminal history, along with other factors, to determine whether release should be granted.
Release interviews are conducted by a panel of two or three members of the Parole
Board. Parole staff and a hearing reporter, who will record what is said during the interview, will also be present. Your loved one‘s attorney may not be present at such interviews.
What is temporary release?
Temporary release is a DOCS program that allows your loved one temporary release
from a correctional facility into the community for specific purposes. Every facility has
a committee to screen and process applications.
What can I do to help my loved one get out of prison and onto parole?
When your loved one appears before the Parole Board, it is important for them to have
―evidence of rehabilitation‖ to help them make the case that s/he should be released.
Evidence about participation in any positive life activities—school, jobs, trainings,
65

counsel and social service programs, parole or probation officer, clergy, volunteer
work—will help your loved one prove ―rehabilitation.‖ Brainstorm about who can prepare these letters. Ask the writer of the letter to talk about any and all details that can
convey your loved one‘s good qualities: the length of time and good attendance in any
sort of school, programs, or jobs, his/her grades and motivation, punctuality, useful
skills learned, the ability to get along well with others. If your loved one has a disability
that prevented him/er from working (for example, your loved one‘s drug or alcohol
problem), make sure the writer explains this. These letters should not only address
your loved one‘s accomplishments before incarceration but what s/he has achieved
during their sentence. To learn more, get in touch with the Center for Parole Restoration at 888-590-9212 .
My loved one has been put on parole. What does a Parole Officer do?
A Parole Officer (or ―P.O.‖) will supervise your loved one in the community if s/he is
approved for temporary release. Details about eligibility requirements and application
procedures are available from the DOCS staff at the prison.
What else should I know about parole?
The Division of Parole charges people on parole, conditional release, presumptive release or post-release supervision, a supervision fee of $30.00 per month. This fee can
be waived if your loved one can provide proof of indigence (poverty) and unreasonable
hardship. Counties are not supposed to collect additional fees.
What can I do to prepare for my loved one’s return home?
One FREE! Member says: ―Manage expectations. Everyone has changed. Be proactive
in staying out and keeping your family together.‖ Research every avenue and map out a
plan! Know who your loved one is, and be proud of any and all their accomplishments.
Be positive and be optimistic to help your loved one gain the confidence to truly believe
that they have the power to turn their life around. Learn as much as you can about the
challenges faced by others who have been through this experience to help you and your
loved one prepare. Join groups like FREE! to get connected to a support system.
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What is shock incarceration and how does it affect parole eligibility?
Shock is a highly successful DOCS program for certain people convicted of non-violent
crimes (mainly those convicted of drug offenses), who are in prison for the first time. It
teaches self-discipline and features academic education, intensive substance abuse
treatment, group and individual counseling, life skills education and physical training.
Shock serves as an alternative to up to three years in prison and is also open to nondrug offenders. Generally, participants who successfully complete the program are issued a Certificate of Earned Eligibility and are eligible for parole release consideration
prior to completing their court-imposed minimum sentence. For more information,
visit http://parole.state.ny.us/Handbook.pdf.
My loved one has served his/her time. Does this mean that the nightmare
is over?
Once that your loved one is released from incarceration, you will find that many barriers exists that make it very difficult for him/her to resume ―life as usual.‖ Even though
your loved one has served his/her time and ―repaid their debt‖ to society, a criminal
record creates many roadblocks that will make even the most basic things in life—
locating a place to live, finding a job, pursuing their education, raising children, establishing financial stability, etc.—very hard. These challenges are known as some of the
of the ―collateral consequences‖ of incarceration.
Will my loved one’s criminal record always be an issue?
Many states allow certain types of convictions to be ―expunged‖ from someone‘s record
after a certain period of time. New York State is not one of them. But there is something that your loved one can do to help to overcome some of the barriers s/he faces:
apply for what is called a ―Certificate of Rehabilitation.‖ There are two different types
of certificates: Certificates of Relief from Disability and Certificates of Good Conduct.
When your loved one applies for certain jobs or occupational licenses, s/he could be
denied automatically based on their criminal history—these are called ―statutory bars.‖
However, if your loved one has a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate
or Good Conduct, an employer or licensing agency is required by law to consider it as
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evidence that he or she is ―rehabilitated.‖ This means that your loved one‘s conviction
history cannot result in him or her being rejected for employment or refused a license. However, the law still permits an employer or licensing agency to refuse to hire
or license your loved one if s/he is not qualified or if the conviction is job-related.
What is the difference between a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities and
a Certificate of Good Conduct?
The difference between these two certificates is who can apply, which is based on a person‘s conviction history. Once the appropriate certificate is granted, they both serve
the same purpose (except for one special case: individuals who wish to run for public
office).
Unfortunately, the rules surrounding these certificates are very confusing. To learn
more, read the informative pamphlet ―Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct,‖ written by the Legal Action Center. You can download the
pamphlet on their website (www.lac.org) or contact them to request a hard copy if you
do not have computer access at 212-243-1313.
Which of the two certificates should my loved one apply for?
Your loved one should apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disability if s/he has no
more than one felony conviction and/or any number of misdemeanors (the number of
misdemeanors does not matter). Your loved one must apply for a Certificate of Relief
from Disability for each charge related to their felony conviction. Your loved one
should apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct if s/he was convicted of two or more
felonies (in addition to any number of misdemeanors).
When can my loved one apply for their Certificate?
If your loved one is eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disability, s/he can apply for the certificate immediately after their conviction if 1) all s/he has on his/her record is misdemeanors or 2) they have a felony conviction that did not require time

68

spent in state prison. If they have spent time in state prison for their conviction, they
can apply as soon as they are released through their Parole Officer.
If your loved one is eligible for a Certificate of Good Conduct, your loved one is
required to wait for a certain period of time depending on the kind of conviction. If
your loved one was convicted of ―A‖ or ―B‖ felonies, s/he must wait a period of five
years from his/her last conviction, payment of fine, or release from prison—whichever
of these is latest. If your loved one was convicted of a ―C,‖ ―D‖, or ―E‖ conviction, s/he
must wait three years from his/her last conviction, payment of fine, or release from
prison—whichever of these is latest.
How can

my loved one apply for a

Certificate

of Relief from

Disability?
Each court has its own (often confusing) procedure, so call them to find out exactly
how the process works. If your loved one has one felony, but served no time in state
prison or a misdemeanor, s/he must apply for the certificate through the court in
which they were convicted.
If your loved one was convicted of a felony and served time in state prison, s/he must
apply directly to the New York State Board of Parole. To request the application,
contact:
Certificate Review Unit
New York State Division of Parole
845 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
518-485-8953
Be sure to follow all instructions on the application very carefully to avoid delays!
The application must be notarized.

69

How can my loved one apply for a
Certificate of Good Conduct?
Once the required waiting period of
either three or five years has passed,
request the application from:
Certificate Review Unit
New York State Division of Parole
845 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
518- 485-8953.
It takes at least six months to obtain a
Certificate of Good Conduct. If your
loved one needs the Certificate in a
hurry, explain why in a letter to the
Certificate Review Unit sent with the
completed application form. When a
job or occupational license is at stake,
they make every effort to speed up the
application process but they do not
have to rush the processing of this application, so it is important to apply as
soon as your are eligible. Don‘t wait
until a job offer is on the line!
Can my loved one come back
home and live with me after s/he

―Each

situation, each human
is different, but there

is one truth for all: your loved one has
been wounded by the horror of being
locked up. What must take place is healing,
not just for him but for you also. It will
happen. It takes time, love and absolute
faith, but it does happen. Be aware of what
he has been through and where he has
been, and don‘t allow your home to become a prison also. Help him to clean the
prison out of him and replace that empty
void with home. Do not allow the prison to
run your lives any longer. In order to be
free, you and your loved one both must feel
free. Remind yourselves constantly that
you are free! All that I had hoped for and
wished for has come to be. My husband is
truly home and we are stronger and more
united for the experience. We truly value
love, companionship, partnership and each
other. We do not take for granted the small
precious moments of life. The healing is
well underway for us both. Keep your faith
and hope....it will be a good day, and a
good life.‖
-FREE! member

is released?
Having a place to go after release from

incarceration is probably the most important ingredient to your loved one‘s successful
―reentry.‖ If you own your own home, consider yourself lucky: nobody can tell you
70

who can and cannot live there with you. If you live in New York City public housing
(NYCHA), on the other hand, there are rules that actually ban people with certain sorts
of convictions from living in a family member‘s apartment or renting one of their
own—at least for a certain period of time. This is another area where a Certificate of
Relief from Disability or a Certificate of Good Conduct can come in handy as proof of
―rehabilitation.‖

Anthony Dye

71

Section 9:

Get Involved!
Formerly incarcerated people and their families have seen their stories go from being a
source of shame to a force for change. Because so many people are affected by incarceration — not only those who are locked up themselves, but also their family, friends,
and neighbors — there are very few people in our communities who have not been personally affected by the criminal justice system.
Take care of yourself by joining a group like FREE! to gain strength through the experience of others. And share your experience to help others who at the start of this long,
difficult journey to build the strength they need to survive.
Now that my loved one is no longer incarcerated, what else can I do?
Get empowered, get involved! We are living in a climate of ―Yes We Can‖ politics.
Don‘t be afraid to tell your story — policymakers are listening! Be courageous.
Your voice can give many others like you a message of hope and that is true
freedom. Don‘t be afraid to let people
know what your loved one, you, and your
family have gone through. Educate peo-

―By

keeping your family together through it all, no

ple. Explain that if your loved one and the

matter what, you are an organizer

thousands of other men and women leav-

and advocate whether you know it or

ing the system can be more prepared

not.‖

prior to their release and return home to

-FREE! member

a fair chance at a productive life, everybody — you, your family, your community and society as a whole — gains.
Can I really make a difference?
Your voice can make a difference! The Family Connections Bill, started by a coalition
of family members with incarcerated loved ones, changed the way the prison phone
system works. We didn‘t just sit around and complain, we ended the 57.7% kickback
72

―It is

true that the huge victory of Spitzer's decision on the NY Campaign
for Telephone Justice was the result of the hard work and strong
support of many, many people. The soldiers of Prison Families Community Forum [now
FREE!] were battling this phone issue for a long time before CCR ever became involved. The Center would not have known of the issue had it not been for these people. They have kept the issue alive among their members and provided the fuel for the
engine of the campaign. PFCF bears a great responsibility for what occurred. PFCF
trekked to countless community boards and stayed late into the night in order to get
their support, PFCF quadrupled the number of campaign endorsers, PFCF greeted
families at the buses on cold rainy winter nights, PFCF tirelessly etched the work of
the campaign into all of our minds and hearts by constantly keeping folks in the loop
and meaningfully -- not symbolically -- involved in the campaign and PFCF passionately
insisted that family members be the center of this campaign in every way. That's
what leads to victory. Much love, respect and gratitude to you all.‖
—Annette Dickerson,
Campaign Coordinator

(backdoor tax) on New York‘s prison telephone contract and ensured that no future
Governor can reinstate it.
Where do I start?
Are you a devoted family member with a loved one in prison with little time but lots of
interest in the issues that affect your daily life? Do you want to meet others with similar
interests to learn more about public policy decision making? Would you like to participate in advocacy efforts to make your home/community a better place to live? Well, if
you answered yes to any of these questions, consider joining FREE!, a nonprofit organization working to affect positive changes to public policy through education, advocacy and participation. As a member, you will be part of a unique organization who affect positive change in their lives.
As a member, you will receive hands-on experience with prison industrial complex and
family issues through:

•

free admission to our public programs that discuss and debate issues;

• access to our monthly calendar of events;
73

• action alert emails about current and emerging policy and legislative issues;
• access to elected and public officials;
•

the opportunity to serve on one or more of our committees that advocate for our
families and our loved ones in prison such as: health care, smaller classes and better
funded schools, more affordable housing, informed urban planning, reproductive
justice and equality for women, social programs that lift people out of poverty, and
government reforms to ensure accountability and transparency.

As a member, we will give you a voice in what matters to you, and your voice will
strengthen ours as we work to promote policies of fairness, equity and inclusion for
families of people in prison. And, as a member, you will decide how much time and effort you can give.
Contact FREE! today.
http://www.freefamilies.us/
Tel: 718-300-9576
freefamiliesinc@gmail.com
Please take a moment to write us and let us know if you found the guide to
be useful:
Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment
PO Box 90
Syracuse, NY 13201
Intern or Volunteer with us:
http://www.prisonfamiliescommunity.org/node/188

74

What FREE! Means to Me
―FREE! means to me a group of strong individuals, sharing a bond like no other and
choosing to band together for change and justice. No matter the relationship, we all
have one goal: fairness for anyone affected by incarceration. If that means we have
to fight an issue, we will as a collective. We proved we are strong with the STOP THE
CONTRACT campaign and will grow even stronger as time goes on.‖
-Jovita Lopez
―Family members that have come up with a solution for all those in need of an answer or of a shoulder to lean or cry on...FREE! always seems to know the perfect
thing to say or do. I am truly touched by the generosity of FREE's members‘ spirit
and willingness to go out of there way to help others. And I am indeed thankful.‖
-Shan
―FREE is a place where I can share my thoughts with other family members who
have family in the New York State prison system.‖
-Joanne Sinovoi
―FREE is a great group of people all over the country fighting to end the injustice
in the phone contract with NYS and the prison population. It is great meeting
people from NYS plus other states in our fight. Last but not least letting other
people like the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club about our fight and having them
support our fight along with our great State Senator Tom Duane in our fight.‖
-Lee
―FREE means to me based on my experience it is a group of family members who
have come together to resolve certain issues such as the Prison Family Telephone
system. FREE members have always been resourceful, no matter what the issue
may be. The group has grown and a great success day by day. I am glad to be a
part of FREE.‖
—Mona
―FREE is about self awareness and support for women and men in an honest and
open way that I have not found with too many other groups-and we handle our business! I felt safe from the gate with these folks.‖
- FREE! member
75

Can You Hear Me Now?
You split us up when our family gets incarcerated
You try to break up our Family
You try to treat us like we are beneath you
You try to degrade us
You try to make us feel like we are criminals
You judge us because we care about people in jail
You look at us like aliens
You expect us to just sit around like were your flunkies
You want us to bow down and say, ―Hail the King Verizon!‖
You want us to keep you on your perch like you are some type of God
You expect us to keep giving up our hard-earned money, so we can keep in contact with
our loved ones
Just so you can sit up in your big office with your fancy cars
Knowing you cheated us
You try to act like you‘re smarter and wiser than we, which you‘re not are
However, today we make a stand and show you you‘re not
Your #1 quote is ―CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW‖,
Good personally if you ask me it should be ―PAY ME NOW GOOD!‖
But today I am standing up and saying, ―CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW‖
We will no longer allow you to cheat and bamboozle us
We‘re all hip to your scheme
Therefore, I hope that this message is loud and clear:
YOU WILL HEAR, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!
YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME!
YOU WILL STOP STEALING FROM ME!
YOU WILL STOP MENTALLY ABUSING ME!
BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:
YOU WILL SHOW ME R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
GOOD
BECAUSE IT STOPS TODAY!
-By Jasmine M. Killebrew, Age 14, PFCF Member

76

Acknowledgements
At the completion of this publication, FREE! has received generous support
from: New York Foundation, Union Square Awards, North Star Fund, Drug Policy
Alliance, Funding Exchange, NY Presbytery and the Manhattan Neighborhood
Network, and people like you.
In addition, FREE!

would like to thank: Denise Barnes, Jessica Colter, Marion

Rodriguez, FREE! Steering Committee Members Kym Clark (Founder), Dana Kaplan,
Cheri O‘Donoghue, Ricky O‘Donoghue, and Ivey Walton. FREE! would also like to acknowledge (in alphabetical order): Panama Vincente Alba, Ed Allie, Denisse Andrade,
Shadell Carmon, Cole, Annette Dickerson, Gaetie Edouarzin, Maria and Don Ferrin,
William Gibney, Rick Greenberg, Brian Greene, Sr., Mona and Abu Hayat, Joanne,
Arissa Johnson, Kahlil Khan, Yvonne and Jasmine Killibrew, Amy Levine, Jovita
Lopez,

Ruth Marshall,

Nettie McKeithon, Mark McPhee, Lauren Melodia, Iris

Morales, Khalil Mustafa, Rafael Mutis, Kathy Parker, Cipriana Quann, Eddie Santiago,
Dennis Sobin, Emmanuel Tam, Marisol Torres, Wendy Vasquez, Diane Wachtell, and
Andrea Williams.
FREE! also wishes to thank the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for their
generous support in printing the first edition of the book, The Prisons Foundation for
providing artwork created by incarcerated men and women for use in this guide, and
The

Fortune Society for providing us with space in which to do our work.

77

Appendix
We know that it‘s impossible to address all the questions, concerns and needs that
you have in one resource guide. Take the time to read through this list of helpful resources and contact these organizations for assistance. Each section of this appendix
corresponds to a section of the resource guide to make it easier to find the information you need. Learn as much as you can about the system so you can be the best advocate for your loved one!

Section 1: Getting the Call that a
Loved One Has Been Incarcerated
New York State Correctional Facilities Addresses
Adirondack
Box 110
Route 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977-0110
Essex County Supt.: Thomas Sanders
518-891-1343; Fax ext. 4199

Auburn
135 State St.
Box 618
Auburn, NY 13021
Cayuga County Supt.: Hans Walker
315-253-8401
Bare Hill
Caller Box #20, Cady Road
Malone, NY 12953
Supt.: John Donelli
Bayview
550 West 20th St.
NY, NY 10011-2878
New York County Supt.: Roberta Coward
212-255-7590

Albion
3595 State School Road
Albion, NY 14411
Orleans County Supt.: Anginell Andrews
716-589-5511 / Fax ext. 2099

Beacon
PO Box 780, Asylum Road
Beacon, NY 12508-0780
Dutchess County Acting Supt.: Cathrine Cook
845-831-4200

Altona
Box 125, Devil Den Road
Altona, NY 12910
Clinton County Supt.: Michael Parrott
518-236-7841

Bedford Hills
247 Harris Road
Bedford Hills, NY 10507-2499
Westchester County Supt.: Elaine Lord
914-241-3100

Arthur Kill
2911 Arthur Kill Road
Staten Island, NY 10309-1197
Richmond County Supt.: Dennis Breslin
718-356-7333

Buffalo
PO Box 300
Alden, NY 14004
Erie County Supt.: Lyle Starkweather
585-937-3786

Attica
Box 149, Exchange St.
Attica, NY 14011-0149
Wyoming County Supt.: Victor Herbert
585-591-2000

78

Butler ASACTC
PO Box 400
Red Creek, NY 13143
Supt.: Daniel Alexander
315-754-8001

Coxsackie
Box 200, Route 9W West
Coxsackie, NY 12051-0200
Greene County Supt.: Gary Filion
518-731-2781

Camp Gabriels
P.O. Box 100, Route 86
Gabriels, NY 12939-0100
Franklin County Supt.: Justin Taylor
518-327-3111

Downstate
PO Box 445, Red Schoolhouse Rd.
Fishkill, NY 12524-0445
Dutchess County Supt.: James O'Connell
845-831-6600

Camp Georgetown
3191 Crumb Hill Road
Georgetown, NY 13072
Madison County Supt.: James Morrissey
315-837-4446

Eastern NY
Box 338, Route 209, Institution Rd.
Napanoch, NY 12458-0388
Ulster County Supt.: David Miller
845-647-7400

Camp Pharsalia
Route 23 South
Plymouth, NY 13344-9729
Chenango County Supt.: James Wilkinson
607-334-2264

Edgecombe
611 Edgecombe Avenue
NY, NY 10032-4398
New York County Supt.: Harold McKinney
212-923-2575 / 607-962-3184

Cape Vincent
Route 12E, Box 599
Cape Vincent, NY 13618
Jefferson County Supt.: Anthony Zon
315-654-4100

Elmira
P.O. Box 500
Elmira, NY 14902-0500
Chemung County Supt.: Floyd Bennett
607-734-3901

Cayuga
P.O. Box 1150, Route 38A
Moravia, NY 13118
Cayuga County Supt.: Joseph McCoy
315-497-1110

Fishkill
P.O. Box 1245
271 Matteawan Rd.
Beacon, NY 12508
Dutchess County Supt.: William Connelly
845-831-4800

Chateaugay ASACTC
P.O. Box 320, Route 11
Chateaugay, NY 12920
Franklin County Supt.: Alan Roberts
518-497-3300
Clinton
Box 2000, Cook St.
Dannemora, NY 12929
Clinton County Supt.: Daniel Senkowski
518-492-2511
Collins
PO Box 490
Collins, NY 14034-0490
Erie County Supt.: James Berbary
716-532-4588

Five Points
Caller Box 400, State Route 96
Romulus, NY 14541
County: Seneca Supt.: Thomas Poole
607-869-5111
Franklin
PO Box 10, Bare Hill Road
Malone, NY 12953
Franklin County Supt.: Roy Girdich
518-483-6040
Fulton
1511 Fulton Avenue
Bronx, NY10457-8398
(Continued on page 80)

79

Bronx County Supt.: Eduardo Nieves
718-583-8000
Gouverneur
PO Box 370, Scotch Settlement Rd.
Gouverneur, NY 13642-0370
St. Lawrence County Supt.: Thomas Poole 315-2877351 Fax: 287-2533
Gowanda
South Road, PO Box 350
Gowanda, NY 14070-0350
Erie County Supt.: Tim Murray
716-532-0177
Great Meadow
Box 51, Route 22
Comstock, NY 12821
Washington County Supt.: George Duncan
518-639-5516
Green Haven
Route 216
Stormville, NY 12582
Dutchess County Supt.: Charles Greiner
845-221-2711
Greene
PO Box 8, County Route 9
Coxackie, NY 12051-0008
Greene County Supt.: Joe David
518-731-2741
Groveland
Route 36, Sonyea Road
Sonyea, NY 14556-0001
Livingston County Supt.: Timothy Murray
585-658-2871
Hale Creek ASACTC
279 Maloney Road
Johnstown, NY 12095 Fulton County Supt.: Hazel
Lewis
518-736-2094
Hudson
Box 576, East Court St.
Hudson, NY 12534-0576
Columbia County Supt.: Herbert McLaughlin
518-828-4311

716-792-7100
Lincoln
31-33 West 110th St.
NY, NY 10026
212-860-9400
Livingston
Lyon Mountain
Box 276, NY Route 374
Lyon Mountain, NY 12952-0276
Clinton County Supt.: John Donelli
518-735-4546
Marcy
PO Box 5000, Old River Road
Marcy, NY 13403
Oneida County Supt.: Gary Greene
315-768-1400, Fax: 315-768-1419
Mid-Orange
900 Kings Highway
Warwick, NY 10990-0900
Orange County Supt.: Henry Garvin
914-986-2291
Mid-State
PO Box 216, Route 291
Marcy, NY 13403-0216
Oneida County Supt.: Joseph Costello
315-768-8581
Mohawk
PO Box 8450, 6100 School Road
Rome, NY 13440
Oneida County Supt.: Kenneth Perlman
315-339-5232
Monterey Shock
RD #1, 2150 Evergreen Hill Road
Beaver Dams, NY 14812-9718
Schuyler County Supt.: Michael Rabideau Dixon
914-241-3010
Moriah Shock
PO Box 99, Fisher Hill Road
Mineville, NY 12956-0999
Essex County Supt.: Carol Nuite
518-942-7561

Lakeview Shock
PO Box T, Lake Avenue
Brocton, NY 14716
Chautaugua County Supt.: Robert Moscicki
80

Mt. McGregor
1000 Mt. McGregor Road
P.O. 2071
Wilton, NY 12831
518-587-3960

Shawangunk
P.O. Box 750, 750 Prison Road
Wallkill, NY 12589-0750
Ulster County Supt.: Leonard Poruondo
845-895-2081

Ogdensburg
One Correction Way
Ogdensburg, NY 13669-2288
St. Lawrence County Supt.: Dana Smith
315-393-0281

Sing Sing
354 Hunter St.
Ossining, NY 10562-5442
Westchester County Supt.: Brian Fischer
914-941-0108

Oneida
6100 School Road
Rome, NY 13440
Oneida County Supt.: Melvin Hollins
315-339-6880

Southport
PO Box 2000, Institution Rd.
Pine City, NY 14871
Chemung County Supt.: Michael McGinnis
607-737-0850

Orleans
35-31 Gaines Basin Road
Albion, NY 14411
Orleans County Supt.: John Beaver
585-589-6820

Sullivan
Box AG, Riverside Drive
Fallsburg, NY 12733-0116
Sullivan County Supt.: Jim Walsh
845-434-2080

Otisville
P.O. Box 8, Sanatorium Avenue
Otisville, NY 10963-0008
Orange County Supt.: Ernest Edwards
845-386-1490

Summit Shock
R.F.D., Dibbles
Road Summit, NY 12175-9608
Schoharie County Supt.: Jeff McKoy
518-287-1721

Parkside
10 Mt. Morris Park West
NY, NY 10027-6395
New York County Supt.
212-860-6835

Taconic
250 Harris Road
Bedford Hills, NY 10507-2498
Westchester County Supt.: Alexandreena Dixon
315-837-4446

Queensboro
47-04 Van Dam St.
Long Island City, NY 11101-3081
Queens County Supt.: Frank Tracy
718-361-8920

Ulster
Berme Road, PO Box 800
Napanoch, NY 12458
Ulster County Supt.: Joseph Smith
845-647-1670

Riverview
PO Box 158, Route 37
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
St. Lawrence County Supt.: Mike Bintz
Franklin County Supt.: John Sabourin
518-483-8411

Upstate
Bare Hill Road, PO Box 2000
Malone, NY 12953
Franklin County Supt.: Thomas Ricks
518-481-5251

Rochester
470 Ford St.
Rochester, NY 14608-2499
Monroe County Supt.: Lyle Starkweather
585-454-2280

Wallkill
Box G, Route 208
Wallkill, NY 12589-0286
Ulster County Supt.: George McGrath
845-894-2021
(Continued on page 82)

81

(Continued from page 81)

Washington
Box 180, Lock 11 Road
Comstock, NY 12821-0180
Washington County Supt.: Israel Rivera
518-639-4486
Watertown
Dry Hill
Watertown, NY 13601-0168
Jefferson County Supt.: Gale McGuane
315-782-7490
Wende
PO Box 1187, 3622
Wende Road Alden, NY 14004-1187
Erie County Supt.: Edward Donnelly
585-937-4000
Willard Drug Treatment Campus
7116 County Road 132
Willard, NY 14588
607-869-5500
Woodbourne
Riverside Drive
Woodbourne, NY 12788
Sullivan County Supt.: John Keane
845-434-7730
Wyoming
PO Box 501, Dunbar Road
Attica, NY 14011
Wyoming County Supt.: Michael Giambruno
585-591-1010
Public Defender Contacts
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
1-877-6-PROFILE
www.aclu.org/profiling
Get help if you have been a victim of police brutality
or racial profiling.

Bronx Defenders
860 Courtlandt Avenue
Bronx, NY10451
Tel: 718-838-7878
1-800-597-7980
Fax: 718-665-0100
Provides holistic, client-centered legal representation,
brief advice, resources and referrals to low-income
individuals in the Bronx.
Legal Action Center
225 Varick St., 4tth Floor
NY, NY 10014
Tel: 212-243-1313
Provides free legal services to formerly incarcerated
people, recovering addicts and HIV+ people. Published the “Know Your Rights” pamphlet for youth
affected by the criminal justice system.
Legal Aid Society
90 Church St
NY, NY 1000
Tel: 212-577-3530
Conducts all action litigation on behalf of people incarcerated NYS prisons and NYC jails.
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
(The Harlem Re-Entry Advocacy Project)
2031 Fifth Ave., 2nd Fl.
NY, NY 10035
Tel: 212-876-5500
www.ndsny.org
Direct Services
Argus Career Training Institute (ACT I)
760 East 160th St.
Bronx, NY 10456
Tel: 718-401-5700
Welfare-to-work program substance abuse counseling
training, supervised internships and job placements.
America Works
228 East 45th St, 16th Floor
NY, NY 10017
Tel: 212-599-5627
Offers entry-level job placement assistance, work
readiness, and skills building for individuals on public
assistance or receiving food stamps.

Office of the Appellate Defender
11 Park Place, Suite 1601
NY, NY 10007
212-402-4100
Provides high quality, client-centered appellate and
(formerly Bellevue Men’s Shelter)
post-conviction representation to individuals convicted 30th St. Shelter
400-430 E. 30th St.
of felonies in Manhattan and the Bronx.

(Continued on page 83)

82

New York , NY 10027
Tel: 212-254-5700 x. 311
www.correctionalassociation. org
Offers career development services, job search skills,
assistance in housing, family, and entitlement issues,
assistance in entry level job skills training, substance
abuse and education programs.

(Continued from page 82)

NY, NY 10016
Tel: 212-481-0771
Binding Together, Inc.
200 Hudson St.
NY, NY 10013
Tel: 212- 334-9400
www.bindingtogether.org
Provides job training and placement, financial incentives, and counseling.

Medgar Evers College
Tel: 718- 270-6434
www.mec.cuny.edu

Bowery Residence Committee
1000 Grand Concourse, Suite 2E, Bronx 10451
Tel: 718-590-1235
BRC‟s SPAN program provides information and referral to forensic mentally ill people.

Critical Resistance
976 Longwood Ave.
Bronx, NY10459
Tel: 718-676-1660
Fax: 718-676-1672

Bronx Psychiatric Center
Ginsburg Outpatient Clinic
1500 Waters Place
Bronx, NY10461
Tel: 718-862-4745
Offers outpatient services for clients who have been
incarcerated or who have problems with the criminal
justice system.

Drug Policy Alliance
www.drugpolicy.org
Seeks new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights and a just society in
which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions
of today are no more.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of NY
1011 First Ave.
NY, NY 10022
Tel: 212- 371-1000
A comprehensive program, including clothing, bail
fund and referrals (including job referrals). Services
are also available to families of people in prison.
Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor
NY, NY 10012
Offers publications including the Jailhouse Lawyer‟s
Handbook and Women's Appendix in collaboration
with the National Lawyer's Guild.
Citizen’s Advice Bureau
890 Garrison Ave
Bronx, NY
Tel: 917-918-4495
City Harvest Food & Hunger Hotline
159 W.25th St
NY, NY
Tel: 917-351-8777
The Correctional Association of New York
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. Suite 200

Ebenezer of Deliverance Prison Ministry Outreach

35 Downey Place
Staten Island, NY 10303
Tel: 718-922-6080
Provides a quarterly newsletter, pen pal services and
visits to correctional facilities, provides support to
people during their incarceration and their re-entry
with provisions for basic needs, such as food, clothing,
shelter, employment, vocational training and housing.
Exodus Transitional Community
161 E. 104th St.
NY, NY 10029
Tel: 917- 492-0990
www.etcny.org
FAIR Families in Action for Incarceration Reforms
309 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 293
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: 914-946-2734
Reaching the media for prison reform and human
rights.
Fortune Society
29-76 Northern Blvd.
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: 212-691-7554
www.fortunesociety.org
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Provides a full range of re-entry services including:
crisis intervention, housing placement assistance,
health services for HIV+, family services, career services, education, alternatives to incarceration and advocacy.

Brooklyn, NY11201
Tel: 1-800-344-3314, 718-707-260 0
Clearinghouse of information on visitation, transportation resources, packages, transfers, parole and other
issues. Provides informational workshops for prison
families on employment opportunities and provides
referrals for educational and treatment programs.

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality
(FUREE)
81 Willoughby St., Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY11201
Tel: 718-852-2960
Grassroots organization of low-income families working to change the system so that all people's work is
valued and all of us have the right and economic
means to decide and live out our own destinies.

Parents in Action
3753 90th St. 2nd Floor
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Tel: 347-624-4830
www.parentsinaction.net
An organization dedicated to protect, preserve, and
strengthen families.

(Continued from page 83)

Joseph Hayden
Tel: 646- 915-8829
www.allthingsharlem.com
www.info@allthingsharlem.com
Grassroots current events media coverage of the Harlem community.
S.T.A.R. Project
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, 12th Floor
NY, NY 10027
Tel: 212-865-0775
Steps To A Renewed Reality Project (Howie T.
Harper Advocacy Center) offers programs for people
with mental illness who have a history of incarceration. The Forensic Peer Specialist Program trains participants to be peer counselors and the Assisted Competitive Employment Program offers eight weeks of
job readiness training for work in a large variety of
fields.
Make the Road by Walking
301 Grove St.
Brooklyn, NY11237
Tel: 718-418-7690
www.maketheroad.org
Promotes economic justice and participatory democracy by increasing residents' power to achieve self determination through collective action.
NEW (Nontraditional Employment for Women)
243 West 20th St.
NY, NY 10011
Tel: 212- 627-6252, Fax: 646- 486-2293
www.new-nyc.org
Osborne Association
175 Remsen St., 8th floor

Project Torch
840 Flatbush Avenue Extension ?? th Floor
Brooklyn, NY11201
Tel: 718- 439-4345
www1.va.gov/visns/visn03/homelessny.asp
Services Project TORCH offers a variety of services to
homeless veterans
Queers for Economic Justice
16 W. 32nd St. #10H
NY, NY 10001
Tel: 212-564-3608
www.q4ej.org
A progressive non-profit organization committed to
promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and
gender liberation.
Roberto Clemente Family Guidance Center
540 East 13th St.
NY, NY 10009
Tel: 212-387-7400
Individual/family/group counseling and psychotherapy
for families under stress due to incarceration.
Smart University
306-308 W. 38th St., Suite 601
NY, NY 10018
Tel: 212-564-3282
Provides treatment and prevention education and support for women and youth living with HIV/AIDS in
order to increase their self-confidence and self-esteem.
STEPS to End Family Violence
Tel: 212-410-4200
www.egscf.org/endviolence.html
Provides services to abused women, teens and children
who have witnessed and/or experienced abuse in their
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(Continued from page 84)

www.Streetwisepartners.org

homes to prevent inter-generational abuse and incarceration.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow
7 W. 36th St, 16th Fl.
NY, NY
Tel: 212-736-3411
www.ml4t.org

Vocational Foundation
1 Hanson Pl, 14th Floor
Brooklyn, NY
Tel: 718- 230-3100 x1007
Vocational and educational training, counseling, job
placement & career mentoring.
Women and Work
25 West 43rd St., Suite 1005
NY, NY 10036
Tel: 212-642-2070
Offers free 15-week job and life skills training program for women: computer training, communication
and interpersonal skills, dressing for success. High
school diploma or GED, working knowledge of English, and the ability to work legally in the United
States required.
Women’s Prison Association
110 2nd Ave
NY, NY 10003-8302
175 Remsen St.,
Brooklyn, NY11201
Tel: 212-674-1163
www.wpaonline.org
Alternatives to incarceration, family reunification and
support, housing, and case management, employment
assistance and mentoring) for formerly incarcerated
women and their families.
The College Initiative
555 W. 57th St, Suite 604
NY, NY 10019
Tel: 212-484-1176
Assistance with educational needs/goals.
Learning for Living
Tel: 718-401-5700
Provides GED help.
New York City Employment & Training Coalition
11 Park , 7th Fl.
NY, NY ZIP
Tel: 212-253-6873
www.nycetc.org
Streetwise Partners, Inc.
Tel: 212-971-0078

New York Urban League
204 W. 136th St.
NY, NY
Tel: 212-926-8000 x126
www.nyul.org
Career Gear
120 Broadway, 36th Fl.
NY, NY 10005
Tel: 212-577-6190
www.careergear.org
Interview clothing and counseling.
Minority Community Empowerment Network,
1411 Pacific St.
Brooklyn, NY
Tel: 718-363-9010
Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
141 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY
Tel: 718-857-2990 x23
www.bwiny.org
Long -Term Substance Abuse
Residential Treatment Programs
Greenwich House Parole Treatment Program
122 West 27th St.
NY, NY 10003
Tel: 212-463-8244
Substance abuse and counseling services to clients
referred to Greenwich House through the New York
State Division of Parole.
Palladia, Inc.
10 Astor Place, 7th Floor
NY, NY 10003
Tel: 718-583-5399
www.palladiainc.org
Samaritan Village
38 Forbell St.
Brooklyn, NY11208
Tel: 718-277-6317 x 125
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85

Operation Prison Gap: 800-734-3733, 914-287-0800,
Yonkers 914-376-7771
Pauly Coach: 718-284-7517
Queensbridge: 917-731-4286, 247-204-5398
Rosie‟s Van Service: 718- 639-5573
Socttie Transportation Service: 718- 216-3165, 718293-7339
T „n‟ J Transportation: 347-413-3002
Travel Star Transportation: 516-789-8406

(Continued from page 85)

www.samvill.org
Odyssey House
219 East 121st St.
NY, NY 10035
Tel: 212- 987-5114 / www.odysseyhouseinc.org
El Regreso, Inc.
Women‟s Residential Treatment Program
141 South 3rd St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Tel: 718-384-6400 / Fax: 718-486-6957
Men‟s Residential Treatment Program
189-191 South 2nd St.
Brooklyn, NY11211
Tel: 718-599-6892 / Fax: 718-384-0540

Prisons Foundation
1718 M St., NW, #151
Washington, DC 20036 www.prisonsfoundation.org
Tel: 202-393-1511
Seeks to encourage and facilitate educational and artistic development among the incarcerated to maximize
rehabilitation and therapeutic opportunities in preparation for release.

BASICS Inc.
1064 Franklin Ave.
Bronx, NY10456
Tel: 718- 861-5650 x 4

Prisoners Rights Project of Legal Aid society
Tel: 212-577-3530
Parole Revocation Defense Unit, Legal Aid Society
of NY
90 Church St.
NY, NY 10007
Tel: 212-577-3530
Conducts call action litigation on behalf of people
incarcerated in New York.

Project Greenhope for Women
448 East 119 St.
NY, NY 10035
Tel: 212-369-5100 / Fax: 212-348-3684
www.projectgreenhope.org
Serendipity
977 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY11205
Tel: 718- 802-0572 female referrals
Tel: 718- 398-0096 male referrals

Prison Action Network Judith Brink
P.O. Box 6355
Albany, NY 12206
Tel: 518-364-3088
prisonaction@hotmail.com
Prison Action Network seeks to unite people who are
incarcerated in NYS, people who have a loved one in a
NYS prison, and people who care about the impact
incarceration has upon our society.

Section 2: After Sentencing
Transportation Services to Correctional Facilities
A& J Transportation: 212-369-4581, 917-552-6991
C.J. Express Travel Services: 877-202-3200
Cecils‟ Van Service: 845-518-1760, 845-465-6300
Ebony Van Service: 212- 365-8899
Flambouyant Bus: 718- 324-3603; 718- 325-6784, 718
- 325-7468
Greyhound/Trailways Bus Services: Tel?
Jefferson-Carter Underground Corp.: 347-210-1527,
347 675-2441
Kismet Bus & Van: 718- 346-9076, 646- 294-1180
Manney‟s Bus & Van Service: 718- 469-1170
Munro Transportation Inc.: 718- 735-8551, 917- 6505253

Prison Families of New York, Inc.
40 North Main Avenue
Albany, NY 12203
Tel: 518-453-6659
Provides information, support, communitydevelopment, advocacy, policy information and progressive prison/parole strategy development for prison
families and people of conscience. PFNY provides
training for professionals on the issues of children and
families of Prisoners and representation of those issues
before state and local government, the NYS Legislature and agencies and faith communities statewide

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(Continued from page 86)

Reaching Out
NA World Services, Inc.
PO Box 9999
Van Nuys, CA 91409
Provides free quarterly recovery newsletter to incarcerated addicts.
Stay 'N Out Criminal Justice Program
500 8th Ave., Room 801
NY, NY 10018
212-971-6033
Provides comprehensive treatment for incarcerated
men and women with drug-related offenses. This program has established segregated units in Arthur Kill
and Bayview Correctional Facilities. Inmates of all
NY State facilities are eligible for this program after
meeting the criteria.
Prison Families Anonymous
P.O. Box 343
Central Islip, NY 11722
www.hiddentruthtv.net

Section 4: Maintaining and
Building Intimate Relationships
Suggested reading:
The Prisoner’s Wife by Asha Bendele
Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Ane
Katherine
How Can It Look So Good—And Feel so Bad? Your
Guide to Inner Peace by Tracie Rose Ryder
Diary of a Crack Addict’s Wife by Cynthia D. Hunter

Section 5: What about the
Children?

277 Stuyvesant Avenue
Brooklyn, NY11221
Tel: 718- 452-3936
Mentoring services and parenting classes to incarcerated women and women recently released from prison.
Offers incarcerated women a monthly newsletter, and
assists their children
CHIPs Support Group (Syracuse, NY)
115 E. Jefferson Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
Tel: 314-422-5638
www.communityalternatives.org/programs/
CHIPS.html
Support groups for children with incarcerated parents
conducted in collaboration with the local school district to address issues of isolation, self-esteem and
shame, making positive choices, goal setting, selfreliance, developing support systems, substance abuse,
the corrections system (visitation, contact, parole, release), and legal issues.
City Year
20 West 22nd St.
NY, NY 10010
Tel: 212- 675-8881
http://www.cityyear.org/sites/new_york/
Young people age 17 to 24 engage in a variety of activities to meet critical needs in their communities
focused on the education and development of youth,
serving as mentors in public schools and organizing
and running after-school program, domestic violence
prevention, AIDS awareness, and diversity. Corps
members receive a weekly stipend and an award towards higher education at the completion of their service.
The Children's Aid Society
105 E. 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010
Tel: 212-949-4800
Services are available for youngsters from infancy
through young adulthood ranging from adoption and
foster care, education, health care, and counseling, to
specialized eye and dental clinics, homemaker services, Head Start classes, afterschool/weekend/
summer programs, drug and teen pregnancy prevention, parenting programs, and emergency assistance.

Angel Tree
44180 Riverside Parkway
Lansdowne, VA 20176
Tel: 800-552-6435
www.angeltre e.org/contentind ex.asp?ID=527
Court Employment Project
For all prison families struggling to buy a gift for their
346 Broadway, 3rd Fl.
children.
NY, New York 10013
Tel: 212-732-0076
Bridge St. AWME Church Prison Ministry
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(Continued on page 88)

Offers support groups, substance abuse counseling, job
training, internships, independent living skills, childcare, adult education and recreation.

(Continued from page 87)

An alternative to incarceration program for felony
offenders age 13 and older. It offers Basic Education ,
GED preparation, ESL, job preparation and development, job referrals, counseling, d rug education and
prevention, and advocacy for those with open court
cases.

Incarcerated Mothers Program/Edwin Gould Services for Children
1968 Second Avenue, 2nd Floor
NY, NY 10029
Tel: 212- 876-0367
Advocacy, foster care prevention, counseling and vocational training. Program for children 9-19 whose
parents have been or are incarcerated. Saturday groups
and Grandparents as Parents support group.

The Door: A Center for Alternatives
555 Broome St., Manhattan Mail address: 121 6th
Avenue, NY, NY 10013
Tel: 212-941-9090
Provides crisis intervention services to adolescents
(age 12-21) in need of welfare, Medicaid and emergency housing. Family planning services as well as
legal, educational and vocational counseling also provided.
Friends of Island Academy
330 West 38th St. Room 301
NY, NY 10018
Tel: 212-760-0755
Serves youth age 11-24 who have been released from
Rikers Island or other juvenile and adult detention
facilities and are returning to New York City with case
management, leadership training, computer classes,
employment placement assistance, referrals to educational programs, tutoring.

In Arms Reach, Inc.
Parents Behind Bars: Children in Crisis
The City College of New York
Harris Hall Bldg.
NY, NY10031
212-650-5894 / Fax. 212-650-8483
www.inarmsreach.org
Services to heal children, families and communities.

Justice Works Community
1012 Eighth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY11215
Tel: 718-499-6704
www.justiceworks.org
Serves incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated
people and their families. Letters of reasonable Assurance to the Parole Board and post-release referrals are
Getting Out and Staying Out
offered. Educate, organize and mobilize a partnership
9 East 116th St.
of concerned citizens and organizations to advocate
NY, NY 10029
for just humane and effective criminal justice policies,
Tel: 212-831-5020
Males age 18-24 before and after release from Rikers emphasizing alternatives to incarceration for women
and/or upstate facilities. Male mentorship model. Vol- with children.
untary program. Clients come in as often as possible
Seven Neighborhood Action Partnership
and get sent on job interviews.
(JusticeWorks Community)
199 Lincoln Avenue, #307
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars
www.girlscouts.org/program/program_opportunities/ Bronx, NY10454
Tel: 347-597-7061
community/gsbb.asp
SNAP is designed to empower citizens of the
Incarcerated mothers and their daughters participate
together in traditional Girl Scout activities to enhance neighborhoods most impacted by prisons to advocate
for the repeal of New York‟s mandatory minimum
visits between mothers and daughters, reduce the
Rockefeller Drug Laws and more humane criminal
stress of separation, improve daughters' self-esteem,
justice policy.
and reduce
Hour Children, Inc.
36-11 12th St.
Long Island City, NY 11106
Tel: 718- 433-4724
Supports mothers and their children providing resources and services outside and inside NYS prisons.

Times Square Ink Employment Program
Times Square Youth Job Readiness Program
Midtown Community Court
314 West 54th St.
NY, NY 10019
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88

(Continued from page 88)

Tel: 646-264-1338 / Fax: 212- 664-7940
www.timesquareink.org
Work readiness and academic achievement program
for out of school youth ages 17-21.
Children's Village (TRIP Program)
1 Dassern Dr.
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522-3119
Tel: 914-674-9179
www.childrensvillage.org/
Treatment for Residents with Incarcerated Parents
Program (TRIP) provides individual and group therapy
to address children's emotional issues and provides
regular visitation with incarcerated parents and ongoing family therapy with the child, the incarcerated parent, and other family members.
Rikers Island Visiting Program
Administration for Children and Families
www.cwla.org/programs/incarcerated/
cop_whathappens.htm
Provides facilitated visits with incarcerated mothers
and fathers detained on Rikers Island.
Prison Family Visiting Programs
Interfaith Hospitality Center
P.O. Box 3062
Elmira, NY 14905
Tel: 607-732-6453
Hospitality House for families visiting their loved ones
in Elmira.
Albion Orleans Visitors' Center
P.O. Box 313
Albion, NY 14411-0313
Tel: 716-589-9014
Hospitality and waiting center that provides food, children's activities and informal counseling
Hope Hospitality House
30 Wyoming Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14215
Tel: 716-892-5574
A service of Hope Prison Ministries that strengthens
ties between prisoners and their families. Hope Hospitality House is a service of Hope Prison Ministries.
Offers van transportation services from Buffalo to
family members of prisoners in Wyoming, Wende and
Attica Correctional Facilities to Buffalo area residents
and out-of-town families.

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Section 6: Health and Wellness
The HIPPA (Authorization to Use and Disclose Health Information) form is like the one you get when you sign
into a doctor‟s office that allows others to receive information about your medical condition. Folks could actually take the format and make their own form and have their loved one who is incarcerated sign it and send it to
the health office and counselor at the facility where they are located. Having this form could make a difference
in the care that is provided to your loved one in prison, as well as all of your family members.
-Denise, FREE! member
AUTHORIZATION TO USE AND DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION
1. INDIVIDUAL PATIENT
I give my authorization to use or disclose my protected health information as described in section 2 below.
Your Name: ___________________________ Social Security Number____________________
Legal Responsibility
If you are 18 years old or older, you are legally responsible for yourself, check this box.
If you are an emancipated child or teenager and your patents no longer have custody over you, check here.
If you are a child or teenager and your parents are divorced, please check this box. Below please list the
name of the patent or guardian who has custody over you.
2. THE USE AND / OR DISCLOSUR E
A. I understand that under the HIPAA regulations, my health information will be used and disclosed to any
health care provider who is involved with my medical treatment or services, my health insurance plan, and
any medical billing clearinghouse who is involved with your insurance claims fulfillment.
B. Under these new regulations the following people must be authorized by you to have access to your
health information: your spouse, other family members, and friends; nurse or home aid; legal guardian; or
other person/organization who is not involved with your medical treatment, insurance plan, or payment.
Below Please list the people /organizations that you authorize to have access to your information:
Persons/Organizations Receiving the Information:
1) Name ________________________________ Contact Phone:_________________________
Address:_________________________________ Relationship to the Patient:________________
What Specific Information to Disclose___________________________________________
When Date Will the Disclosure Expire____________________
2) Name ________________________________ Contact Phone:__________________________
Address:_______________________________ Relationship to the Patient:_________________
What Specific Information to Disclose___________________________________________
When Date Will the Disclosure Expire____________________
3. CHANGING YOUR MIND ABOUT THE AUTHORIZATION
I understand that I may revoke this authorization at any time by giving written notice to your Privacy Officer.
4. METHOD OF CONTACT
I authorize the office of to contact me the following manner: ___Home Tel:___________________ Written
Mail ___OK to leave message with detailed information ____OK to mail to my home address ___Leave message with a call back number only ____OK to mail to my work/office address ____Ok to fax to this number_____________ ___Work Tel: Number____________ ___OK to leave message with detailed information
___Leave message with a call back number only
5. STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING
I have reviewed and I understand this Authorization. I also understand that my health information will be used
or
disclosed to certain business associates of who are part of the health care process. These business associates
will also
keep your heath information confidential.
By:__________________________________________________ Date: _________
(Patient)
Or By:__________________________________________________ Date: _________
(Patient's Representative)
Description of Representative's Authority ___________________________________________________
© 2003 DavSim.Net div of Available Engineers Corporation
Instant HIPPA Forms at:http://www.teamlead.com/instantHIPPAForms.asp
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infection handbooks by mail.

Health Resources
ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
125 Broad St., 18th Floor
NY, NY 10004
Advocates for pregnant women while incarcerated to
receive the reproductive health services that are
needed, distributes "Know Your Rights" fact sheet.

NYC Aids Housing Network
80A Fourth Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tel: 718-\ 802-9540
Membership organization comprised and led by lowincome people living with HIV/AIDS to empower and
organize our community including the nonprofits that
serve us, to advocate for more housing, better housing
and sound public policies.

Bronx HIV Care Network
Montefiore Medical Center
3058 Bainbridge Ave.
Bronx, NY10467
Coordinate comprehensive health and social services
for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in the
Bronx.
Tel: 717.231-

The Osborne Association
AIDS in Prison Project
809 Westchester Avenue
Bronx, NY10455
Tel: 718-707-2600 or 800-344-3314
Brochures for HIV positive people, transitional housing, substance abuse treatment, job readiness and case
management for recently released people.

CitiWide Harm Reduction
226 E. 144th St.
Bronx, NY10451
Tel: 718-292-7718, ext. 262 / Fax: 718- 292- 0500 /
www.CitiWideHR.org
Safe and supportive participant-led community offering a wide variety of outreach, services and care to
homeless and low-income drug users living with
and at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Protecting Your Health & Safety: A Litigation
Guide for Inmates
c/o Prison Legal News (PLN)
2400 NW 80th St., #148
Seattle, WA 98117
Litigation manual $10 (Formerly produced by Southern Poverty Law Center

Exponents, Inc. Case Management Connection
151 West 26th St.
NY, NY10001
Tel: 212- 243-3434
Offers long-term case management for HIV+ individuals transitioning from correctional facilities back to the
community.
Harm Reduction Coalition
22 West 27th St., 5th Floor
NY, NY 10001
Tel: 212- 213-6376
Provides trainings, seminars, workshops and support
groups inside and outside of prison, and distributes
"Hepatitis- C Awarenes" newsletter.
Latino Commission on AIDS
24 West 25th St., 9th Floor
NY, NY 10010
212- 675-3288

Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement (MHASC)
www.boottheshu.org in
A coalition of New York State agencies that are currently working to abolish solitary confinement in state
prisons by advocating for the passing of legislative bill
S333/A4870, which would put a stop to the endless
confinement of incarcerated individuals with mentally
illnesses.
Rights of Incarcerated People with Psychiatric
Disabilities
123 William Street, 16th Fl.
NY, NY 10038
http://rippd.org/justice
RIPDD is a grassroots organization founded by people
with psychiatric disabilities to fight against the injustice in the prison systems, to find alternatives to incarceration and to advocate for better mental health care
in New York State prisons.

National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project
(NATAP)
580 Broadway, Suite 1010
NY, NY 10012
Provides Hepatitis-C and HIV/Hepatitis -C co-

(Continued on page 92)

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Know Your Rights
Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook
Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway
NY, NY 10012
Legal Publications in Spanish, Inc.
PO Box 623
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
800-432-0004
Legal Aid Society Prisoners Rights Project
199 Water St.
NY, NY 10038
Tel: 212-577-3346

www.familiesforfreedom.org
An organizing center against deportation that offers
support, education, and campaigns for directly affected
families and communities both locally and nationally.
Reentry Net/NY
860 Courtlandt Avenue
Bronx, NY10451
Tel: 718-838-7878
www.reentry.net/ny
A collaborative network and online training and support center of Bronx Defenders that provides valuable
information and materials for non-citizens charged
with crimes.

Section 8: Homecoming
Housing and Treatment Organizations
(your loved one may be referred to one of these
directly upon release from incarceration)

Prisoners Legal Services Central Intake
114 Prospect St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Prisoners Legal Services
301 S. Allen St.
Albany, NY 12208
Prisoner Assistance Center
Tel: 718-275-6037
Our mission is to provide quality criminal justice services to Prisoners in all NY jails and prisons and their
families. We strive to help Prisoners obtain freedom
in and out of jail.
MICA Project
Provides enhanced legal and social work services to
clients with mental illness and chemical addiction
(“MICA”) issues to prevent relapse and further criminal activity following clients‟ release from incarceration.
Immigrant Defense Project
3 West 29th St., Suite 803
NY, NY 10001
Tel: 212- 725-6422
www.immigrantdefenseproject.org
Family members, defense lawyers, other criminal justice advocates, immigrant advocates and immigrants
themselves who seek training, legal support or guidance on criminal/immigration law issues.
Families for Freedom
3 West 29th St, #1030
NY, NY 10001
Tel: 646- 290-5551 / Fax: 800-895-4454

Bridge Iyana House
248 W 108th St.
NY, NY 10025
Tel: 212-663-3000 or 212-423-5733
Permanent, supportive housing for 16 women diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness, including women with co-occurring disorders of mental illness and substance abuse for women being discharged
directly from Bedford Hills.
Common Ground Rap
505 8th Ave, 15th floor
NY, NY 10018
Tel: 212-471-0881 / Fax: 212-271-0825
www.commonground.org
Rental assistance program for clients who are either on
parole or are defined as frequent users.
The Doe Fund
520 Gates Avenue
Brooklyn, NY11216
Tel: 718-622-0634 / Fax: 718-622-0877
www.doe.org
Supportive housing and employment program for formerly incarcerated men who are homeless upon discharge from Queensboro.
The Fortune Academy (of The Fortune Society)
26-76 Northern Blvd.
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: 212-691-7554 / Fax: 212-255-4948
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NY, NY 10027
Tel: 212-289-0000
www.fortunesociety.org
www.pathwaystohousing.org
A drug-free transitional housing facility for formerly
A collaborative supportive housing program coincarcerated men and women with a history of suboperated with the Mount Sinai Hospital Narcotics Restance abuse offering case management, substance
habilitation Center. Provides clients with apartment,
abuse counseling, support groups, healthcare coordina- ACT (assertive community treatment) team services
tion, independent living skills training, and employand methadone treatment. Participants must meet their
ment counseling.
criteria.
(Continued from page 92)

“Frequent Users” Public Safety Pilot Project NYC
Department of Homeless Services
33 Beaver St., 15th Floor
NY, NY 10004
Tel: 212-361-0984 / Fax: 212-361-5586
www.nyc.gov/dhs
Services The Public Safety Pilot project targets
“frequent users” of the jail and shelter systems: individuals with a minimum of four stays in.

Sunflower House c/o Women’s Prison Association
110 Second Avenue
NY, NY 10003
Tel: 212-213-0221 Fax: 212-213-0225
www.wpaonline.org/services/permanent.htm
A self-governed, sober house for formerly incarcerated
women.

Palladia Parole Transition Program
1808 Third Avenue
NY, NY 10029
Tel: 212-348-7548 Fax: 212-410-9205
www.palladiainc.org

Career Connections
60 Madison Avenue, Suite 705
NY, NY 10010
Tel: 212- 683-8641
A structured employment program for low income
single people with any past criminal conviction or any
history of substance abuse recovery. Offers a job
readiness program, training and counseling, job placement, post-placement support, and rewards for staying
on the job.

Project Renewal Parole Support and Treatment
Program
200 Varick St.
NY, NY 10014
Tel: 212- 620-0340 x 352 Fax: 212- 243-4868
www.projectrenewal.org
Serves people with a co-occurring diagnosis of mental
illness and substance abuse who are released from
prison and on parole for a minimum of one year. Scatter-site transitional housing and wrap-around, mental
health, medical, and employment services.
Providence House Parole-Funded Transitional
Housing for Women and Children
703 Lexington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY11221
Tel: 718-455-0197 x 14 / Fax: 718-455-0692
www.providencehouse.org
Runs 6 congregate care transitional residences, a 15
apartment transitional housing program, and a permanent housing program for women who are transitioning back into the community from prison in Brooklyn,
Queens and Westchester County. Provides case management, housing placement services substance abuse
and mental health services.
Pathways to Housing Keeping Home Project
55 West 125th St., 10th Floor

Employment

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)
32 Broadway
NY, NY10004
Tel: 212-422-4430
On-the-job work experience for people on parole, probation or in work-release programs. Must be referred
by parole or probation officer.
National H.I.R.E. Network
225 Varick St., 4th Floor
NY, NY 10014
Tel: 212-243-1313 / www.hire www.hirenetwork.org
Helping Individuals with criminal records Reenter
through Employment.
Connections 2009 and The Job Search
A newly updated guide for formerly incarcerated people to information sources, job interviewing and resume writing, preparation in prison, avoiding job discrimination as a formerly incarcerated individual, and
telling the truth about your conviction(s) on a job ap
(Continued on page 94)

93

(Continued from page 93)

with a history of mental illness and substance abuse.

plication. You get it at your public library, and it is in
the prison library. http://www.nypl.org/branch/
services/connections/2009_Connections_Final.pdf

Wildcat Service Corporation
17 Battery Place, 1st floor
NY, NY 10004
Tel: 212- 209-6000
www.wildcatatwork.org
Provides case management, counseling services, job
training, job placement and post-employment services
to formerly incarcerated adults and parolees.

New York State Department of Labor
Brooklyn: 9 Bond St, 5th fl, 718-246-5219
Bronx: 358 E. 149th St, 2nd fl, 718-960-7099
2501 Grand Concourse, 3rd fl, 718-960-4686
NYC: 215 W. 125th St, 6th fl, 917-493-7000
Queens: 168-46 91st Ave, 718-557-6755
29-10 Thomson Ave, 718-609-2130
www.labor.state.ny.us
Re-entry services, job training & placement assistance.
Federal Bonding Program, Work Opportunity Tax
Credit program

ReConnect
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Suite 200
NY, NY 10027
Tel: 212-254-5700
www.correctionalassociation.org
The Women in Prison Project‟s leadership training
program for women who are currently in transition
home from prison, jail, or an alternative to incarceraCommunity Networks
tion (ATI). Through interactive workshops, ReConnect participants examine the root causes of women‟s
Episcopal Social Services
305 Seventh Avenue, 4th Floor, Manhattan 10001
incarceration, ways to overcome systemic barriers to
Tel: 212-886-5602
employment, housing, parental rights, consumer
Re-entry program for formerly incarcerated men and rights, and higher education, and how to work collecwomen. There are six sites in the NYC area where tively to change the policies that adversely impact
participants come together to meet the challenges of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women.
transition in the context of a four-part meeting. Meetings instill discipline, build self-esteem, foster education, teach conflict avoidance and resolution and create
community. Trained facilitators conduct all Network
sessions.
ICARE
6 Sylvan Court
NY, NY 10035
Tel: 212-426-9881
info@nyicare.org
The Interfaith Coalition of Advocates for Reentry and
Employment (ICARE) works to eliminate barriers to
reentry by leading a “Restoration of Rights” campaign
in the Restorative Justice tradition.
Prisoner Re-Entry Institute at John Jay College
The City University of New York
555 West 57th St., Room 601-08
NY, NY 10019
Tel: 212-484-1327
Project New Life Path Bridge Back to Life
175 Remsen St. 10th Floor
Brooklyn, NY11201
Tel: 718-852-5552
http://www.bridgebacktolife.com
Provides services for formerly incarcerated women
94

FREE! Historical Timeline
May 2002
Families of New York State‘s incarcerated including Founding Member Ivey Walton
hold their first meeting to discuss the impact of incarceration on their lives.
Prison Families Community Forum (PFCF) is recognized as a collective grassroots
group.
Summer 2002
Membership expands through efforts by Amy Levine; Participation in the 2nd Annual
―Breaking the Chains‖ event.
Winter 2002
PFCF embarks upon the ―Stop the Contract‖ campaign and PFCF partners with Public
Utilities Law Project (PULP) and Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
2002-2003
PFCF hosts a series of legal and advocacy workshops for families led by a host of professionals.
2003
PFCF initiates ―Stop the Contract‖ petition (created by Founding Member Jovita Lopez) and letter writing campaign to demand that the Public Service Commission grant
an open hearing to families paying exorbitant fees charged by MCI/DOCs.
Founding member, Ruth Marshall, speaks at Columbia University in reference to the
Stop the Contract campaign.
PFCF joins with Prison Families of New York, CCR, the JEHT foundation and other organizations to develop a multi-tiered campaign to reform the telephone policies in correctional facilities in 3 states.
PFCF secures donations from Essence Magazine and Starbucks to distribute to families
at Columbus Circle bus departure site where PFCF does monthly outreach.
February 2004
Marion Rodriguez joins the staff as Outreach Coordinator of the NY Campaign for Tele95

phone Justice and elevates the telephone campaign to new heights.
Summer 2004
PFCF members Denise Barnes and Jovita Lopez initiate monthly advocacy meetings in
the Bronx at the Osborne Association.
PFCF members Amy Levine and Ivey Walton are honored at the 3rd Annual ―Breaking
the Chains‖ event.
Fall 2004
PFCF in conjunction with the NY Campaign for Telephone Justice launch a video outreach tool.
Spring 2005
PFCF officially separate from the 5th Avenue Committee becoming a stand-alone, member led, grassroots collective. Steering Committee to include Kym Clark, Dana Kaplan,
Marion Rodriguez, Ivey Walton, Denise Barnes, Cheri O‘Donoghue and Rickey
O‘Donoghue.
Winter 2006
PFCF is honored with the prestigious Union Square Award for its commitment and
dedication to grassroots organizing.
January 2007
Stop the Contract Victory! Governor Spitzer ended the backdoor tax on New York
State's Prison Phone Contract, effective April 1, 2007. Families in New York with a
loved one in prison won a long-awaited victory .
Spring 2007
PFCF is the recipient of grants from the following organizations to fund its continued
work in advocacy and skills training for families of the incarcerated:
NY PRESBYTERY
THE NORTH STAR FUND
THE FUNDING EXCHANGE
PFCF receives a Tactical Media Grant from Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN)
96

to produce various video tools documenting its work and the ongoing struggles of families of the incarcerated.
Summer 2007
PFCF attends the United States Social Forum in Atlanta, GA and participates in a panel
on incarceration in the U.S.
PFCF Steering Committee member, Cheri O‘Donoghue, appears in the Russell Simmons film, Lockdown USA, to discuss her personal encounters with the Rockefeller
Drug Laws.

Fall 2007
PFCF begins to produce a series of local cable television shows addressing issues related to families of the incarcerated, such as the war against MCI, which are shown on
MNN.
PFCF sponsors a table at the annual Family Empowerment Day organized by Prison
Action Network and the Otisville Lifer‘s Group.
PFCF joins the Real Reform Coalition to advocate for the repeal of the draconian
Rockefeller Drug Laws and attends the Drug Policy Alliance Conference in New Orleans, LA.
PFCF is awarded a grant from the Drug Policy Alliance to organize families around the
repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
2008
PFCF redefines itself as Families Rally for Emancipation & Empowerment (FREE) and
moves into shared office space with Families United for Racial and Economic Equality
(FUREE) in Brooklyn, NY.
FREE launches its interactive website to keep families informed of the issues related to
incarceration in New York State (www.freefamilies.us).
F.R.E.E continues to produce video outreach tools and train members of the community in video production in conjunction with MNN.
97

F.R.E.E relocates to Long Island City to share office space in the renowned Fortune Society complex.
2009
F.R.E.E further utilizes media as a means of outreach and partners with The Maysles
Cinema in Harlem, NY to host monthly film screenings of documentaries that detail
critical issues related to crime and punishment in America.

98

Notes

99

Notes

100

 

 

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