I didn’t realize that it was possible for Sesame Street to tug at my heartstrings even more than it did when Big Bird got the news that the beloved grocer Mr. Hooper passed away when I was a child in the 1980s. However, Sesame Street is now addressing one of the great crises that children in this country face today: parental incarceration. Both a human and a muppet character on the show discuss the pain of having a father in prison, and the Sesame Street website provides a very useful tool kit and activities for caretakers of children with an incarcerated parent. The tools are designed to help young children, ages 3 to 8, but their lessons are useful for all of us with an incarcerated loved one.
Thank you, folks at Sesame Street, for your attention to this serious issue and your compassion for children grappling with a frightening experience which will undoubtedly shape their lives.
My friend Melissa Radcliff, the executive director of Our Children’s Place (an excellent nonprofit which helps the children of prisoners), coauthored an article for the Chapel Hill News about what it means for fathers to be locked away from their children. Kudos to Melissa and her collaborator, prison chaplain Dave Nickel, for honoring fathers like mine this Father’s Day.
Doin’ Time: Families and Incarceration
A public lecture and performance
by Ashley Lucas
Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7 PM
Hanks High School Theater
El Paso, Texas
Proceeds from this event benefit Community Solutions of El Paso (an organization that provides services to prisoners’ children) and the Prisoners Family Conference
Tickets: Adults $20, Students & Children $7
Click here to see the poster.
My dear friend and Prison Creative Arts Project Associate Shaka Senghor gave a talk about prisoners and their lack of access to technology at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City last week. Check out the video of his speech on his website.
Though many of us have seen this coming since Republicans took over the state legislature in North Carolina, we should take the time today to mourn the repeal of the groundbreaking Racial Justice Act–the legislation which allowed death row prisoners in North Carolina to appeal their death sentences (but not their convictions) on the grounds of racial bias in the jury. (For earlier writing on this blog about the Racial Justice Act, click here, here, and here.) This law saved lives, and now we have taken a giant step backwards in protecting the civil rights of death row prisoners of color. Until we manage to entirely end the barbarism of the death penalty in the U.S., we should avidly pursue the reinstatement of the Racial Justice Act in North Carolina and the creation of similar protective laws in other death penalty states. In addition to offering a much needed avenue for appeal for individuals on death row, legislation like this helps those of us who oppose the death penalty to keep debates over the wildly erratic logic of capital punishment in the public eye.
Keep the 153 men and women on North Carolina’s death row in your thoughts today. They have suffered an egregious loss, and the hopeless place in which they live has become all the more unbearable.
Click here to read an article about a production of Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town, produced by Rehabilitation Through the Arts at Sing Sing prison.
An innovative new resource for prisoners has recently been written by Terri LeClercq, an advocate for incarcerated people in Texas. LeClercq’s new book, Prison Grievances, is a graphic novel providing instructions on a fifth grade reading level for prisoners who wish to file grievances within the prison system.
For more information, click here.