RIGHTS TO REALITIES
Since the Bill of Rights was first published
in 2003, it has been widely distributed and used in venues
around the country to educate the public, provoke discussion,
and train service providers.
In 2005, SFCIPP launched the Rights to Realities
Initiative, with the long-term goal of ensuring that every
child in San Francisco whose parent is arrested and/or incarcerated
is guaranteed the rights that follow. Our current work plan
involves assessing the current status of each right in San
Francisco, and the availability of model practices from
around the nation; identifying which agencies might contribute
to addressing each right; and working with those agencies
to develop responsive policies and practices. Our overarching
aim is to ensure that every decision about criminal justice
policy and practice takes into account the needs and hopes
AN AGENDA FOR ACTION
1. I have the right to be kept
safe and informed at the time of my parent's arrest.
- Develop arrest protocols that support and protect children.
- Offer children and/or their caregivers basic information
about the post-arrest process.
2. I have the right to be heard when
decisions are made about me.
- Train staff at institutions whose constituency includes
children of incarcerated parents to recognize and address
these children's needs and concerns.
- Tell the truth.
3. I have the right to be considered
when decisions are made about my parent.
- Review current sentencing law in terms of its impact
on children and families.
- Turn arrest into an opportunity for family preservation
- Include a family impact statement in pre-sentence investigation
4. I have the right to be well cared
for in my parent's absence.
- Support children by supporting their caretakers.
- Offer subsidized guardianship.
5. I have the right to speak with,
see and touch my parent.
- Provide access to visiting rooms that are child-centered,
non-intimidating and conducive to bonding.
- Consider proximity to family when siting prisons and
- Encourage child welfare departments to facilitate contact.
6. I have the right to support as
I face my parent's incarceration.
- Train adults who work with young people to recognize
the needs and concerns of children whose parents are incarcerated.
- Provide access to specially trained therapists, counselors,
- Save five percent for families.
7. I have the right not to be judged,
blamed or labeled because my parent is incarcerated.
- Create opportunities for children of incarcerated parents
to communicate with and support each other.
- Create a truth fit to tell.
- Consider differential response when a parent is arrested.
8. I have the right to a lifelong
relationship with my parent.
- Re-examine the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
- Designate a family services coordinator at prisons
- Support incarcerated parents upon reentry.
- Focus on rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration.