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Children Read Mother's Day Cards to Incarcerated Mothers

May 09, 2003

Two million children in the US now have a parent in jail. Today we’ll hear children reading their Mother’s Day Cards to their moms in prison and hold a roundtable discussion on the plight of incarcerated mothers.

Last month, 30-year-old Saundra Kelly of Brooklyn New York gave birth to a baby girl. She named her Sinaia. The birth took place at the Nassau University Medical Center. But just days later Saundra had to hand over her daughter to a friend. That’s because Saundra is in jail awaiting trial on assault charges.

Until six months ago the prison, the East Meadow jail in Nassau, ran a nursery for new mothers. But today Saundra, who was recently profiled in an article by Newsday, had no choice but to give up her newborn daughter.

And unfortunately stories such as Saundra’s are not rare. It is estimated that 2 million children across the country have a parent in jail. African American children are nearly nine times more likely to have a parent in prison than white children. Hispanic children are three times as likely as white children to have a parent who is in jail. As part of our Mother’s Day special we are going to look at the plight of incarcerated mothers and what happens to their children.

  • Julie Kowitz, Director of the Women in Prison Project in New York City, is an attorney with a background in women’s rights and civil rights advocacy. Prior to joining the Correctional Association, she represented plaintiffs in police brutality, employment discrimination, reproductive rights, and other civil rights matters.
  • Lisa Turner, former prisoner and mother. Lisa Turner spent two and a half years in the New York State prison system. Lisa is from the Bronx and she is a mother of two children. She recently graduated from Project Greenhope (an Alternative to Incarceration program) and is involved with ReConnect, a leadership institute with the Women in Prison Project. Lisa has also now begun an HIV/AIDS peer education program. She aspires to be a substance abuse counselor.
  • Tanya Krupat, Director of the Children of Incarcerated Parents Program (CHIPPS) of the Administration for Children’s Services in New York City.

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