View Full Version : Group pushes for more inmate-family contact


Amy
07-27-2004, 08:46 AM
http://www.2theadvocate.com/stories/072604/new_contact001.shtml

By DEBRA LEMOINE
dlemoine@theadvocate.com (dlemoine@theadvocate.com)

Advocate staff writer

BATON ROUGE -- Improving prisoners' contact with family members and reforming the way Louisiana handles life sentences are goals for a statewide inmate advocacy group.



Twenty members of Louisiana Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants met with their national director and co-founder, Charles Sullivan, Sunday evening at the Bishop Tracy Center to discuss prison-reform issues.

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the country, activists said. The state also has the highest number of inmates serving life sentences with no possibility of parole, they said.

Improving ways for inmates to maintain relationships with family members is the best way to prevent parolees from returning to prison, the advocates said.

"Maintaining family connections is important to successful integration into society," said Diane Smith, president of the Louisiana group.

Sullivan suggested the group research and promote a program developed in Mississippi that allows family members to visit inmates privately for 48 hours. The visits occur in a section of the prison designed like a motel, he said.

Mississippi allows conjugal contact during these visits, but most of the time is spent visiting with children and other family members, Sullivan said. Half the visits in a similar Canadian program are conjugal, Sullivan said. The number of conjugal visits in the Mississippi program were not provided.

"We all need to prepare them to be with family (after parole)," Sullivan said. "When they are released, they are concerned about their job and their parole officer. Why can't we prepare them?"

A Canadian program that helps inmates to plan for life outside prison, called Life Lines, is another reform measure Sullivan and Smith want to pursue. The prison system recruits inmates who have been released, but are on parole for life, to act as mentors for prisoners still behind bars, Smith said. The parolee-mentors help inmates plan for life outside of prison, they said.

The parolee-mentors also serve as spokesmen to the community and news media to show that parolees can lead productive lives after prison, Sullivan said.

In Louisiana, prisoners serving life sentences have little chance of parole, which has led to a saying among activists that "in Louisiana life means life," Smith said.

Louisiana has about 3,800 prisoners serving life sentences -- higher than the total number of "lifers" in Canada, the activists said.

The legislation signed into law this year makes it even harder for lifers to receive parole, activists said. The law extends the time inmates have to wait before asking the state parole board for a hearing.

Before the law, prisoners had to serve 15 years before asking for parole. If denied, they had to wait six years to ask again, then three years and then two-year intervals thereafter. The law extends the latter waiting times to 10 years, seven years and then five years thereafter.

In response, Louisiana CURE is preparing a survey to gather a snapshot of who is serving life sentences. They are asking prisoners about their crimes, how long they have been in prison and how often they have had a hearing. About 995 of Louisiana's lifers are over the age of 50, and 7.5 percent of them are serving life for nonviolent crimes, activists said.

TRINITEE729
07-27-2004, 10:50 PM
it is good to kow they are thinking about changing the way things are done

kerrilyn
07-28-2004, 09:50 AM
im thrilled about this ... i hope it all pans out.

mik grl
04-24-2005, 07:27 PM
http://www.2theadvocate.com/stories/072604/new_contact001.shtml

By DEBRA LEMOINE
dlemoine@theadvocate.com (dlemoine@theadvocate.com)

Advocate staff writer

BATON ROUGE -- Improving prisoners' contact with family members and reforming the way Louisiana handles life sentences are goals for a statewide inmate advocacy group.



Twenty members of Louisiana Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants met with their national director and co-founder, Charles Sullivan, Sunday evening at the Bishop Tracy Center to discuss prison-reform issues.

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the country, activists said. The state also has the highest number of inmates serving life sentences with no possibility of parole, they said.

Improving ways for inmates to maintain relationships with family members is the best way to prevent parolees from returning to prison, the advocates said.

"Maintaining family connections is important to successful integration into society," said Diane Smith, president of the Louisiana group.

Sullivan suggested the group research and promote a program developed in Mississippi that allows family members to visit inmates privately for 48 hours. The visits occur in a section of the prison designed like a motel, he said.

Mississippi allows conjugal contact during these visits, but most of the time is spent visiting with children and other family members, Sullivan said. Half the visits in a similar Canadian program are conjugal, Sullivan said. The number of conjugal visits in the Mississippi program were not provided.

"We all need to prepare them to be with family (after parole)," Sullivan said. "When they are released, they are concerned about their job and their parole officer. Why can't we prepare them?"

A Canadian program that helps inmates to plan for life outside prison, called Life Lines, is another reform measure Sullivan and Smith want to pursue. The prison system recruits inmates who have been released, but are on parole for life, to act as mentors for prisoners still behind bars, Smith said. The parolee-mentors help inmates plan for life outside of prison, they said.

The parolee-mentors also serve as spokesmen to the community and news media to show that parolees can lead productive lives after prison, Sullivan said.

In Louisiana, prisoners serving life sentences have little chance of parole, which has led to a saying among activists that "in Louisiana life means life," Smith said.

Louisiana has about 3,800 prisoners serving life sentences -- higher than the total number of "lifers" in Canada, the activists said.

The legislation signed into law this year makes it even harder for lifers to receive parole, activists said. The law extends the time inmates have to wait before asking the state parole board for a hearing.

Before the law, prisoners had to serve 15 years before asking for parole. If denied, they had to wait six years to ask again, then three years and then two-year intervals thereafter. The law extends the latter waiting times to 10 years, seven years and then five years thereafter.

In response, Louisiana CURE is preparing a survey to gather a snapshot of who is serving life sentences. They are asking prisoners about their crimes, how long they have been in prison and how often they have had a hearing. About 995 of Louisiana's lifers are over the age of 50, and 7.5 percent of them are serving life for nonviolent crimes, activists said.My father has been in prision since 1974 for herion and has life with out parole if you can help in any way please send any information you have. Pray for us. Thank you.

rosacaridad
05-10-2005, 12:07 PM
Louisiana CURE - P.O. Box 181 - Baton Rouge LA 70821

Five dollars for prisoners to join, ten dollars for individuals.