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Iscol lecturer: U.S. justice has always oppressed minorities

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By Shashank Vura for the Cornell Chronicle

glenn e martin

Glenn E. Martin

When Glenn E. Martin went to the White House last year along with 40 other experts in the field of criminal justice, his colleagues were all accorded green passes. Martin, a former prison inmate, was given a pink pass reading “needs escort.”

Despite the 21 years that had elapsed since his conviction, Martin said he was held back at one point by a Secret Service agent and prevented from going further.

“This moment speaks to barriers Americans face with turning their lives around,” he said, lamenting the “lack of second chances” in U.S. society. “Every sentence, even one day in jail, is a life sentence,” Martin said, noting the “stigma stays with you forever.”

Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Martin is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York state prisons. He shared his experiences in the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lecture, “Mass Incarceration: An Experience Shared by 65 Million Americans,” Sept. 27 on campus. The lecture is hosted annually by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research in the College of Human Ecology.

“Is mass incarceration an insurmountable problem?” Martin asked the audience. The U.S. has “five percent of the world’s population,” he said, but accounts for “25 percent of the world’s prison population.” More than 2 million Americans languish in prison, Martin said, and 40 percent of the prison population is composed of black people, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population. Martin attributed this to a “justice system [which] is only the newest iteration of a system of oppression that has existed for hundreds of years” against racial minorities.

He shared the story of one of his current employees, Richard Simpson Bay. After a conviction for attempted murder of a police offer, the illiterate Bay appealed cases for 24 years before a federal court found him not guilty and that the “prosecutor broke rules” and “conjured up his own idea of what happened that night.” During his incarceration, Bay’s 19-year-old son was gunned down by a 14-year-old boy.

Bay became an advocate for his son’s murderer, making that case that he, too, was a “victim, not an offender.” The prosecutor capitulated and the culprit avoided adult prison. Martin said Bay showed “great compassion” and suggested society does not invest the resources necessary to help “high-crime, high incarceration communities high in victimization,” but punishes them instead.

“Everyone has chance to turn around and change their lives, but only if those in position of privilege create a space for that to happen and are willing to invest in people,” Martin said. Only then can we “get rid of a classist, homophobic, racist and xenophobic [criminal justice] system.”

Iscol lecturer: U.S. justice has always oppressed minorities - Cornell Chronicle

 

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Conference spotlights consequences of parental incarceration

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By H. Roger Segelken for the Cornell Chronicle:

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Anna Haskins speaking

With millions of American parents, mostly fathers, locked in jails and prisons, a national conference at Cornell Sept. 15-16 shined the spotlight on their kids back home.

“Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children” was the topic of the Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, featuring a multidisciplinary mix of scholars from more than a dozen institutions and programs.

“One of the most shocking phenomena this country has witnessed in the last century has been the unprecedented rise in mass incarceration,” said conference co-organizer Anna Haskins, Cornell assistant professor of sociology and member of the Center for the Study of Inequality. An estimated 1 in 14 American children (about 7 percent) has a parent incarcerated at some point in their young lives, observed Haskins. Of special concern, she emphasized, “is the overwhelming disparity in which this issue touches African-American and Hispanic but not white populations.”

Haskins hopes the conference opens new areas of inquiry for social scientists. “We know more about the deleterious consequences for imprisoned individuals and former inmates,” she said, “but less attention has been paid to the broader fallout for families.”

The conference series and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) are named for Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005), the renowned developmental psychologist who taught at Cornell for more than 50 years and developed the so-called ecological systems theory. Several conference-goers said the ecological approach could help to untangle incarceration’s effect on family and society.

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Christopher Wildeman speaking

Christopher Wildeman, associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and associate professor of policy analysis and management, speaks at the conference.
Said conference co-organizer Christopher Wildeman, BCTR associate director and associate professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology: “The conference’s multidisciplinary focus, in addition to being highly consistent with Urie’s own academic orientation, is also unique within this research field – where psychologists, sociologists, economists and criminologists who study the consequences of parental incarceration rarely publish in the same journals, attend the same conferences or grapple with each others’ perspectives.”

One productive outcome of the conference, Wildeman said, will be a proceedings volume with authors from all those fields, published by the American Psychological Association.

A third conference co-organizer, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, professor of human ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that “developmental perspectives are lacking” so far in most studies of incarceration’s consequences. Scholars need to know “how parental incarceration can get under the skin of children and influence through an entire life course.” When considering a child’s resilience in the face of parental incarceration, Poehlmann-Tynan said, researchers should remember “resilience is a process, not a characteristic or trait.” Some children appear to do surprisingly well during parental incarceration, she said. “We can’t paint the picture that parental incarceration (inevitably) is doom.”

Sara Wakefield, an associate professor in the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice (and co-author, with Wildeman, of “Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality”) sought to correct some popular misconceptions. Many parents hide their criminal activity from their children – until, that is, they’re arrested, prosecuted and punished, she said. Furthermore, long sentences in state or federal prisons aren’t the only source of stigma and trauma among convicts’ children. Hundreds of thousands of Americans cycle through local jails every month, Wakefield said, “and even short spells in jail are highly consequential for children.”

Sociologist Kristin Turney, from the University of California, Irvine, highlighted possible effects of parental incarceration, including strains on parental relationships, economic well-being and health, and suggested children might develop behavior problems or experience diminished cognitive skills. Among the youngest children of incarcerated parents, boys seem to be most affected, Turney said. But as children mature, girls are more likely to be troubled by a father’s incarceration.

Joyce Arditti, professor of human development and family studies at Virginia Tech, reported some children growing up with an incarcerated biological parent they never knew – outside or inside prison walls – can still be affected by that stigmatizing association.

As for the Bronfenbrenner conference venue as an apt place to discuss family-ecological perspectives of child development, Arditti said: “It’s kind of cool to be here in his ‘backyard.’”

Conference spotlights consequences of parental incarceration - Cornell Chronicle

Video of the full conference is available on our YouTube channel and in the media library on this web site.

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Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference

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Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children

September 15-16, 2016

Conference program

The fifth biennial conference in honor of the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner convened a panel of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider the micro-, meso-, and macro-level interventions that best minimize the consequences of parental incarceration for children, families, and communities. Presentations emphasized the strongest interdisciplinary research on the consequences of paternal and maternal incarceration for children (with special attention to mediators and moderators) as well as discussing policies and individual-level interventions that could help lessen the likelihood of parental incarceration or help children whose parents have experienced incarceration. The conference’s overarching goal is to strengthen the connections between research, policy, and practice in the area of collateral consequences of mass incarceration for children.

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Christopher Wildeman

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Incarceration and Inequality
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Christopher Wildeman
Department of Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

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Doing Translational Research podcast with Chris Wildeman

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wildemanIn episode 6 of the BCTR podcast Doing Translational Research, center director Karl Pillemer talks with Christopher Wildeman about his research on mass incarceration and inequality. Christopher Wildeman is an associate professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, where he is also co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect and a faculty fellow here in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

Chris talks about his research and the way working with communities has strengthened his work. His research and teaching interests revolve around the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on families, health, and children. He is also interested in child welfare, especially as relates to child maltreatment and the foster care system.

Ep. 6: Incarceration and Inequality with Christopher Wildeman - Doing Translational Research podcast

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2016 Iscol Lecture: Glenn Martin, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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Mass Incarceration: An Experience Shared by 65 Million Americans
Glenn Martin, JustLeadershipUSA

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
7:30pm
G10 Biotech Building



 

Is mass incarceration an "insurmountable problem"?  Glenn E. Martin, the founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA, will address this question in the 2016 Iscol Lecture. Mr. Martin is at the forefront of the effort to bring the voices of those directly impacted by mass incarceration into the criminal justice reform conversation. Hear about his goals to cut the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030, his organization's campaign to close Rikers Island Correctional Center, and how you can work on criminal justice reform next summer.

Glenn E. Martin is the founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in NYS prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as VP of Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center. Glenn is co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow, and a member of the governing boards of the College and Community Fellowship, Million Hoodies, and the California Partnership for Safe Communities. Glenn also serves on Governor Cuomo’s Reentry and Reintegration Council, the advisory board of the Vera Institute’s Public Health and Mass Incarceration Initiative, the National Network for Safe Communities, the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard University, and the Global Advisory Council (GAC) of Cornerstone Capital Group.

Glenn was named on the 2015 Root 100 list of most influential African Americans. In 2015, Glenn wrote an open letter to President Obama, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, after a visit as an invited guest to the White House when he was separated from his colleagues and given a special escort due to his criminal conviction. Glenn was later invited back to speak on a panel at the White House, getting the chance to meet with President Obama at an event focused on criminal justice reform. In 2016, Glenn was appointed to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal  Justice and Incarceration Reform; at the invitation of New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to look at the possibility of closing Rikers Island. Glenn regularly contributes his expertise to national news outlets such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera, and CSPAN.

 

This talk is free and open to all.

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Conference shares latest youth development research

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By Olivia M. Hall from the Cornell Chronicle:

burrow presenting

Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development and PRYDE co-director, presents a poster on youth and life purpose at the Youth Development Research Update.

Runaway slaves, social media, environmental education, the wisdom of elders – the sixth annual Youth Development Research Update June 1-2 in Ithaca covered a lot of ground.

Funded by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) in the College of Human Ecology, the conference brought together 55 Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and program leaders, youth service providers from community agencies and Cornell faculty members from across campus to explore how these and other topics relate to children and teens and how to better serve their needs.

“This event creates a unique, interactive space for practitioners and researchers to engage in sustained dialogue about ongoing research and the potential for future collaboration,” said assistant professor of human development Anthony Burrow, who organized the event with Jutta Dotterweich, director of training for BCTR’s ACT for Youth project.

Stephanie Graf, a Youth and Family Program leader with Jefferson County Extension, has developed several fruitful partnerships over five years of attending the conference. For a past project on Defiant Gardens for military families, for example, she worked with professor of natural resources Marianne Krasny, who this year spoke about environmental education programs to support positive youth development.

Krasny outlined how environmental stewardship activities have potential to stimulate positive growth in young people, leading to healthier physical habits, skills for future employment or greater self-confidence and emotional self-regulation. Educators, meanwhile, face the challenge of guiding youth without overly imposing their own experiences and decision-making – a dilemma for which she suggested a reflective practice of providing structure, support, mutual learning, open communication and ultimate accountability. “Positive youth development is possible,” she said, “but it’s not easy.”

Graf found research by Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of policy analysis and management and a BCTR faculty fellow, on the stigma associated with parental incarceration to be equally relevant to her work, where she sometimes encounters children of inmates in her county’s after-school programs.

Wildeman reviewed research on the United States’ historically high rate of incarceration – which at 500 prisoners per 100,000 citizens far outstrips other developed democracies – and its disproportionately negative impact on minority families. He then described a new experimental study in which teachers, presented with hypothetical students new to their classroom, expected more behavioral problems and less competence from children whose fathers are in prison. These results support the “sticky stigma” attached to paternal incarceration, Wildeman said.

History professor Edward Baptist drew a link from Wildeman’s talk when discussing his Freedom on the Move project. “I think that mass incarceration probably wouldn’t exist and certainly wouldn’t have the shape that it does without the strategies that were created to try to control and continue to force people into the institution of slavery,” Baptist said.

One such strategy was for slave masters to place runaway slave ads in newspapers, reinforcing the persistent scrutiny under which even free African-Americans found themselves. Collaborating with colleagues at Cornell and other universities, Baptist has built a crowdsourcing platform that will engage the public in transcribing and parsing data from some 200,000 ads that survive from the period between 1722 and 1865.

A poster session on the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) concluded the conference, allowing attendees to question researchers about work in its four focus areas: healthy transitions for adolescents; intergenerational connections between high schoolers and older adults; the productive use of social media; and leveraging youth purpose to increase engagement and learning in 4-H.

Burrow, PRYDE co-director, said: “The update provides a rare space for researchers to attend a conference alongside needed collaborators. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too.”

 

Conference shares latest youth development research - Cornell Chronicle

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Talks at Twelve: Peter Fallesen

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Noncustodial Alternatives to Imprisonment and Offenders' Union Formations and Dissolutions in Denmark
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Peter Fallesen
Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University

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Talks at Twelve: Peter Fallesen, Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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Noncustodial Alternatives to Imprisonment and Offenders' Union Formations and Dissolutions in Denmark
Peter Fallesen, Stockholm University

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
12:00 - 1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



Romantic relationships lower offenders’ risk of recidivism. Yet, at the same time, previously incarcerated people do worse on the marriage market, and are more likely to remain single or experience a divorce. By analyzing a recent Danish policy that introduced a noncustodial alternative to imprisonment—electronic monitoring and home confinement— we show that electronic monitoring significantly and persistently lowered the risk both of being single and of becoming single during the first four years following an offender’s criminal conviction. The results highlight that a tool used to promote decarceration trends also secures better relationship outcomes of convicted men.

Peter Fallesen received his PhD in Sociology from University of Copenhagen in 2015. He is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University and a Senior Researcher at the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit in Copenhagen. He works primarily in the fields of family demography and social stratification. His present research interests revolve around how temporal and intergenerational connections between child welfare services, mental health services, and the criminal justice system create and maintain social inequalities. Recent work has appeared in Journal of Health and Social Behavior and Child Abuse & Neglect.

 

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at pmt6@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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Two in five African-American women know a prisoner

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news-wildeman-inpostRecent research findings, co-authored by BCTR affiliate and fellow Christopher Wildeman (Policy Analysis & Management), show that on average African-American adults, and women in particular, are more likely to be acquainted with someone who is incarcerated  than whites. Forty-four percent of black women and 32 percent of black men have a family member, neighbor, or acquaintance in prison, compared to 12 percent of white women and 6 percent of white men.

In a Cornell Chronicle article, Wildeman notes,

Our estimates show even deeper racial inequalities in connectedness to prisoners than previous work might have implied. Because imprisonment has negative consequences not only for the men and women who cycle through the system but also for the parents, partners and progeny they leave behind, mass imprisonment’s long-term consequences of racial inequality in the United States might be even greater than any of us working in this area had originally suspected.

These results show further racial inequality wrought by the U.S. prison boom, with potentially harmful consequences to families and communities lacking social supports to raise children and manage households.

The study was led by University of Washington associate professor of sociology Hedwig Lee ’03 and co-authored by Wildeman and was published by Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race. The article, Racial Inequalities in Connectedness to Imprisoned Individuals in the United States, is co-authored by Tyler McCormick at the University of Washington and Margaret Hicken at the University of Michigan. The study was unfunded.

Wildeman is co-organizer (with Anna Haskins, Sociology, and Julie Poelhmann-Tynan, University of Wisconsin - Madison) of the 2016 Bronfebrenner Conference, which will examine mass incarceration's effects on children.

 

Study: 2 in 5 African-American women know a prisoner - Cornell Chronicle
Racial inequalities in connectedness to imprisoned individuals in the United States - Du Bois Review

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