Family Prison Cells

I posted this at the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Blog.

This is an interesting follow up to my post earlier this week about mothers in prison.  This image is from a Spanish prison that has cell units for families, allegedly the only such facilities in the world.

On a related note, the Women of Color Blog has some recent posts about children of incarcerated parents and the US detaining undocumented immigrant families.

From the post about children of incarcerated parents:

At age nine, Dave was left alone with his baby brother after their mother was arrested. Dave–who was 19 at the time of this intereview–went on to foster care and then college. He never learned why his mother had been arrested, and saw her only once after the day of her arrest.

I was nine when my mom got arrested. The police came and took her. I was trying to ask them what was going on and they wouldn’t say, and then everything went so fast. I guess they thought someone else was in the house. I don’t know. But nobody else was in the house. They arrested her and just left us there.

For two or three weeks I took care of my one-year-old brother and myself. I knew how to change his diapers and feed him and stuff. I tried to make breakfast in the morning and I burnt my hand trying to make toast. I had a blister.

I wasn’t really afraid. I was just trying to take care of my brother. That was my goal–to take care of him. Sometimes he would cry because he probably would want to see my mom.

When my mom was there, every day we used to take my little brother for a walk in the stroller. I still did that every day, even though my mom wasn’t there. Her friend across the street saw us and I guess she figured out something was wrong. She called Child Protective Services and they came and took us.

My mom did come back eventually, but by that time we were already gone. All I know is that they just rushed me in the system and that was that. They didn’t tell me why I can’t go back with my mom.

I was sent to a temporary foster home and my brother was in a different foster home. Then I got placed in the foster home where I live now. I’ve been there for about eight years.

I felt bad about being seperated from my brother. I should have had visits with my brother, to at least know exactly where he was. I just prayed that he was doing OK. During that time we were split up, my mom died. So then I was really mad because my brother was the only person I had left of my family and I didn’t know where he was.

I think when the police first arrested my mom, they should have looked around the house and seen that we were there by ourselves. Then I wouldn’t have had to take care of my brother for that long.

The police should sit down and talk with you. Explain the situation. Why, and what are they going to do with you? How long do they think your mother is going to be there? And don’t just say, “She’ll be out in a couple of days, we’re going to put you in foster care and she’ll get you back,” and then you don’t never get back out. They should just be honest with you and tell you what’s going on.