Mothers Against Mass Incarceration proposes that legislation drafted and submitted to Congress as a result of this campaign will mandate changes to federal sentencing guidelines, that address the mass incarceration of parents via a collaborative effort organized to better preserve public health and safety, family integrity, and not perpetuate recidivism. We demand:
1. That it would contribute to better public health and safety not to incarcerate a woman/parent (to include single unwed fathers as primary caregivers also), without reasonable cause to believe that she is a danger to herself or the community by being outside, and that the state fulfill the burden of proof in those instances. Tangible and solid proof of this must be provided prior to sentencing, so that the mother has ample time to consistently make arrangements for her child's care during all court proceedings, required appearances, or in the event of her conviction, so that the children are safely with family during these times. This prevents needless family court cases from occurring out of open criminal court cases.
2. That a current, able, or clearly suitable primary caregiver of a child reserves the right to continue making decisions regarding the child’s care for the duration of the legal process and after, as it is his right as a parent, unless there is concrete evidence the parent may not, or has not already provided for, or acted in the best interest of the child.
3. Courts in every state should be required to conduct thorough reviews of family situation and household composition pre-trial, including revamped family impact interviews conducted by the defendant’s attorney, and submitted no later than the date of scheduled preliminary hearing. ·
4. Mothers that are primary caregivers to one or more biological dependent under the age of 13 (discovery phase) can qualify under a new amendment to the sentencing guidelines, which will make the higher charge(s) eligible for recommendation by a judge to specific incarceration alternatives that will address the root cause of the crime committed and offer appropriates services. This does not conflict with or duplicate any existing safety valve, due to the nature of the crime, ages of children, and family composition being the main criteria for further consideration. This criteria will be reviewed by judge, prosecution, and service providers alike, and measured in the preliminary or discovery phase of the case.
5. Upon completion of all obligations, recommendations, or programming prescribed by the court and as a condition of agreement, the parent should be eligible to have his case sealed or expunged in order to increase self-sufficiency through earned income, thereby not making the punishment the crime.
This way, we address the crime committed, connect the parent to community resources that address the root cause of the crime, and protect the child at once; by discouraging and interrupting the school to prison pipeline for children of offenders. The existence of criminal behavior should be treated as the cry for help that it is, to treat it as such breaks cycles of crime, poverty and addiction in families without harming them further.This is a holistic and innovative public health and safety response to crime, that utilizes proven successful restorative justice techniques.
We need to protect parents from being entangled in cruel, excessive, punishment via sentencing guidelines that do not fit the situation. This causes greater harm to the fabric of our society by locking them away and not addressing the root cause of crime, which allows the cycle to continue.
We must make our legislators aware of the impact of this damage, and that it is not cost effective, and counterintuitive to lock away large populations or groups based on our stereotypical perceptions. By not addressing the problem of mass incarceration, we allow Jim Crow disenfranchisement of minority groups and impoverished people a foothold in America, regressing back to a pre-civil rights era society. We cannot allow this to happen. Signing this petition is a key first step in addressing or acknowledging the problem exists, and committing to take action.
Our restorative justice based, "family first" approach differs from most alternatives to incarceration programming because it is more a preventive measure, due to criteria stated above the offender would have to meet in order to qualify. While not tearing down the prison gates, the criteria is broad enough to make a significant impact for families in our communities, and keep mothers home who are needed by their families, while also providing the assistance and support families will need to positively turn their lives into a different direction.
We can stop mass incarceration and curb recidivism. Please support Mothers Against Mass Incarceration, and sign our petition. Thank you!