incarceration


You already guessed that I am going to start out with something in sports and then actually talk teen/kid politics, right?  Oh good.  Then no one will be disappointed.

I watched the BCS Rose Bowl last week because UT played and I live in Longhorn Land.  While the rest of my friends were yelling about quarterbacks and kickers and coaches, I focused in on something else entirely.  The TV announcers kept focusing on Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram (who probably had a good game, right?), but instead of talking about his running or catching or something relating to football, they kept talking about his dad.  Cool.  His dad must have been some kind of hero?  Maybe single dad who raised him? An astronaut?  A war hero?  No, another football player (OK, so maybe the announcers knew him), but a football player who is now in jail.  And giving his son moral support.  Wha??  Gimme a break!  His dad is in jail.  What else is he going to be doing with his time?

The news articles did the same thing. Here’s one from the Daily News:

Alabama running back Mark Ingram plays in Rose Bowl as father watches from prison

But more than that is on Ingram. His father, a wide receiver for theSuper Bowl XXV-winning Giants, will be watching from behind bars. He is in a federal jail in Queens awaiting sentencing on bank fraud, money laundering and failure to surrender on charges. The sentence reportedly will be meted out tomorrow.

The third charge stems from Ingram Sr.’s failure to report to a federal facility in Kentucky in December of 2008 to begin serving a 92-month sentence on the first two charges.

He risked the longer sentence so he could watch his son’s freshman season and was apprehended in the family’s hometown of Flint, Mich., just hours before Alabama played in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

“It shows the type of relationship we have, the type of bond that we have as father and son,” Ingram said. “That he’d sacrifice that? Any son has to love that and appreciate that.”

That’s not sacrifice! That’s going to make Mark the younger feel guilty when his dad serves the extra time because he was supporting Mark!  Look ten minutes into the future. Duh!

I know that feel-good stories sell, but let’s focus here.  The dad is in jail because he committed crimes and then ran away from the law.  He is a convict.   He is not there because he was wrongfully imprisoned.  And he’s not there because that’s the best place for him to support his son’s career.

How many words were said about Mark Ingram’s mom?  She was at the game.  I bet she even raised him.  I bet she’s the one he calls when he needs to talk.  I bet she cooks for him when he goes home.

WTF is wrong with these people?

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I’ve written before about prison camps for teenagers and the abuse that happens there, but this one’s the worst I have seen described INSIDE the U.S. Nothing, NOTHING these girls did could justify this. Never!

AP: 13,000 abuse claims in juvie centers (AP)

ADVANCE FOR MARCH 3; graphic shows state by state statistics on juvenile abuse; two sizes; 1c x 2 1/8 inches; 46.5 mm x 54 mm; 3c x 5 7/8 inches; 146 mm x 149.2 mmAP – The Columbia Training School — pleasant on the outside, austere on the inside — has been home to 37 of the most troubled young women in Mississippi.

If some of those girls and their advocates are to be believed, it is also a cruel and frightening place.

The school has been sued twice in the past four years. One suit brought by the U.S. Justice Department, which the state settled in 2005, claimed detainees were thrown naked in to cells and forced to eat their own vomit. The second one, brought by eight girls last year, said they were subjected to “horrendous physical and sexual abuse.” Several of the detainees said they were shackled for 12 hours a day.

These are harsh and disturbing charges — and, in the end, they were among the reasons why state officials announced in February that they will close Columbia. But they aren’t uncommon.

Across the country, in state after state, child advocates have deplored the conditions under which young offenders are housed — conditions that include sexual and physical abuse and even deaths in restraints. The U.S. Justice Department has filed lawsuits against facilities in 11 states for supervision that is either abusive or harmfully lax and shoddy.

Still, a lack of oversight and nationally accepted standards of tracking abuse make it difficult to know exactly how many youngsters have been assaulted or neglected.

(more…)

 

Victoria Jaramillo, 40, holding her 3-month-old daughter, Frida, at Santa Martha Acatitla, a women’s prison in Mexico City. (Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times)

My mom is in prison and has been for more than years. I have thought a lot about what it would be like if she had never been arrested and how different my life would be if she was out and if she was still my guardian. (My life is WAY WAY better now! I wish she could be in a hospital or a drug rehab, but not here in my house.)

But until I read the article below, I never thought of what it would be like to be in prison with her. (I don’t even like going for an hour to visit.)  The kids in the article are a lot younger than I was when my mom was arrested, and the prison they’re talking about is in Mexico and not in the U.S., but still it has me thinking.

Behind prison bars, toddlers serve time with mom

By James C. Mckinley Jr. MEXICO CITY:
Beyond the high concrete walls and menacing guard towers of the Santa Martha Acatitla prison, past the barbed wire, past the iron gates, past the armed guards in black commando garb, sits a nursery school with brightly painted walls, piles of toys and a jungle gym.

Fifty-three children under the age of 6 live inside the prison with their mothers, who are serving sentences for crimes from drug dealing to kidnapping to homicide. Mothers dressed in prison blue, many with tattoos, carry babies on their hips around the exercise yard. Others lead toddlers and kindergartners by the hand, play with them in the dust or bounce them on their knees on prison benches.

On the one hand, maybe these moms learn to be better parents than my mother was, and maybe there’s less abuse when there are guards and other people around. Also, I am glad the children there have toys to play with and a nursery school. On the other hand, they don’t have any freedom. What an experience!

(more…)

I am a statistic:

Two-point-four million American children have a mother or father in jail or prision right now.

….

The children of prisioners suffer from anxiety and attention disorders, or from post-traumatic stress. They are likely to bounce from one care-giver to another;  

Fortunately, I don’t fit the statistics in other ways:

..to have and to cause trouble in school. Often poor to begin with, they get poorer once a parent is arrested.

These children are far from blind to their parents’ failings-they live with them every day , and they have more at stake than anyone in seeing their mothers and fathers rehabilitated, and living within the law. But in one way or another, most say the same thing: things were hard. Mom got arrested. Things got worse.

In my case, things got a lot better, but mostly because of things that had nothing to do with the crimes my mom went to jail for.   The reality is that my mom’s life would be much better if she were getting psych and drug abuse treatment rather than being in prison, and we would probably worry about her a lot less.

Politically, this is the part of that article that jumped out at me, but I don’t know enough about the issue know what the solution is:

“A successful corrections system doesn’t grow”, criminologist Stephen Richards has observed. “If they were correcting anybody, they’d shrink”. As our failing prison system continues to expand its reach, more and more of our children fall under its shadow, denied the light of parental attention they need in order to grow.

I may be a statistic, but none of these statistics means that I have to turn out a certain way.  There are a lot of my mom’s footsteps I don’t plan to follow.