Friday, April 4, 2008

Right # 7: I have the right not to be blamed or judged because of my parent's incarceration"

Yesterday I was able to listen to a conference call about "A Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents." We were all able to hear people speak to what it was like to be a child of an incarcerated mother or father and this was very powerful. These individuals talked about blame, shame, judgement, and secrecy. These issues are hard enough for adults let along children. One woman Ms. Suzie Jensen spoke of her mother being arrested for larceny. She feels that today she has to "prove to people that she can be the perfect daughter/mother/wife so as to not turn into her mother." Ironically this is "what got my mother into trouble." She wanted her children to have clothes, nice things, etc. Ms. Jensen also spoke about the idea of helping youth who are affected by incarceration. She said the idea should not be "to prevent future criminals but create future leaders." Amachi the program that I work with calls this population "Children of Promise."

Marlene Sanchez spoke as well. She had her own struggles with the juvenile justice system, dealing with her father's incarceration, and now her son's father is incarcerated. One of the most powerful things she said was that "anger protected me." I see that with the children we serve sometimes.

She had to call friends and say her name was Veronika to be able to talk to them because there was stigma attached to her family and even teachers said she would end up like her parents. Marlene was in a fight and the principal told the other girl's parents that Marlene's dad was in prison. AHHHHHHH---- Could you imagine that??? She is very open about talking to her son about his father and grandfather being locked up that the son will even tell clerks in a store that his daddy is in prison. Marlene said that her anger and resentment affected her personally and politically. Marlene was the first "youth," appointed to the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commison.


ElonSenior08 said...

Hey again! I'm really sorry to bother you again, but I'm a senior journalism major at Elon, and a reporter for The Pendulum, and myself and The Pendulum staff at Elon would really like to hear more about your thoughts on blogging for an upcoming article, so that we can (hopefully) encourage other Elon students to give back and do the same once they graduate!

Below are just a few questions that we love to have you answer! Any answers at all would be much appreciated. Thank you so much for your time.

Why did you decide to start this blog?

In what ways has this blog been helpful to you throughout your time with AmeriCorps*VISTA?

Would you encourage other grads to start their own blogs? If so, why?

Do you communicate with the three other Elon grad bloggers?

Have you experienced any difficulties with using this blog? If so, what were they?

Anything else that you would like to say to current Elon students?

ElonGradBlogger said...

I decided to start the blog after Elon approached me. I had forwarded on some information to the Kernodle Center about a service opportunity that Elon students might be interested in and mentioned what I was doing with AmeriCorps.

This blog has been helpful in many ways. It is nice to be able to reflect. I have seen and experienced a lot. Every week I see a group of fifty people in prison and talk to them about what their children can accomplish in this world. I talk to parents who are overwhelmed and I see children who feel so much heartache because one of their parents is in prison. It is also special to think that others might make the sacrifice to better their country in some form.

I would encourage blogging to other grads because I feel that after graduation we are still becoming who we are meant to be. We are still growing and it is fun to document that growth.

I want to communicate with the other folks blogging. I have been reading about their experiences and loving it but haven't yet.

I have never done a blog before so it is a challenge to make it more creative. I want it to be more engaging for those viewing the page (polls, etc.) There are just not enough hours in the day.

To current Elon students: Check out the blogs and make comments. We would love the feedback. Elon gives a great foundation to give back. Keep the passion after you graduate!!!!!!!!!