Collateral Casualties

[1] For a detailed human rights analysis of New York's drug laws, see Human Rights Watch, "Cruel and Usual: Disproportionate Sentences for New York Drug Offenders," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 9, no. 2, March 1997.  

[2] The Department of Justice has published statistics on incarcerated offenders and their children nationwide, but does not provide a breakdown of information for drug offenders in particular or on offenders by state. See Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Incarcerated Parents and Their Children," (U.S. Department of Justice, 2000).

[3] We have attached, as Appendix 2, a short bibliography of documents on the impact of parental incarceration on children.

[4] Data from the New York State Department of Correctional Services (hereinafter the Department of Correctional Services), on file at Human Rights Watch. In 1996, drug offenders constituted 31 percent of new prison admissions (excluding returned parole violators). See Human Rights Watch, "Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 12, no. 2, May 2000. Figure 6.

[5] Ibid. The rate of admission of convicted drug offenders was fifty-five per 100,000 adult residents, compared to thirty-five per 100,000 adult residents for convicted violent offenders.

[6] The Correctional Association of New York, "Basic Prison and Jail Fact Sheet,"  http://www.corrassoc.org/visiting_fact.html (accessed May 17, 2002).

[7] Human Rights Watch, "Who Goes to Prison for Drug Offenses?" A Human Rights Watch Update, March 18, 1999.

[8] Data for 2000 new court commitments provided by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, on file at Human Rights Watch. Similar criminal history profiles were evident in prior years as well. See Human Rights Watch, "Who Goes to Prison for Drug Offenses?" New York does not differ from other states in this regard: nationwide, three quarters of drug offenders in state prisons in 1997 had no prior convictions for violent crimes; one-third had prior sentences limited to drug offenses. See Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Substance Abuse and Treatment, State and Federal Prisoners," (U.S. Department of Justice, 1997), p.2.

[9] Although there are prosecutor-sponsored diversion programs in some parts of the state, they require prosecutorial consent, and they exclude many drug offenders from eligibility. Human Rights Watch, "Cruel and Usual."

[10] Human Rights Watch, "Punishment and Prejudice."

[11] Ibid.

[12] The figures reflect incarceration in jails, prisons, and other adult confinement facilities. Human Rights Watch, "Race and Incarceration in the United States," A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, February 2002. Table 2A, 4, and 5.

[13] Ibid.  Tables 4 and 5.

[14] The 1997 survey consisted of personal interviews of a nationally representative sample of state and federal prison inmates as well as a statistically representative sample of state inmates in three states-California, New York, and Texas. The survey obtained a wide range of information, including data on current offense, sentence, criminal history, family background, and personal characteristics. The statistics in this briefing were derived from an analysis of the New York sample. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), "The Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 1997," http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/cgi/archive2.prl?num=2598&path=ICPSR (accessed May 17, 2002).

[15] Figures as of January 31, 2001 from the Department of Correctional Services, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[16] The Correctional Association of New York, "Basic Prison and Jail Fact Sheet."

[17] Data on the percentage of recidivists among drug offenders sent to prison each year since 1980 is not available. The Department of Correctional Services told Human Rights Watch that in recent years as many as 40 percent of drug offenders are repeat offenders, but that in previous years the figure was much lower. A breakdown of prison admissions between 1980 and 2001 by gender is not available.

[18] The 1997 survey does not provide information on whether parents lived with all or only some of their children prior to incarceration.

[19] When a single parent with custody of a child is incarcerated, the children may come under the jurisdiction of the Child Welfare Agency. The parent can either sign a voluntary consent to foster care placement, or the agency can make a finding of parental neglect or abandonment and secure placement. In either case, the foster care placement is court-approved, and the court will impose conditions for the parent to be able to regain custody of the child.

[20] Mothers are allowed to keep infants at Bedford Hills or Taconic until the child is twelve months old, unless the mother is likely to be released before the child is eighteen months old. The two facilities have a total capacity of fifty-six infants.

[21] Human Rights Watch interview with C.J., New York City, March 8, 2001. To protect the privacy of interviewees, we have not provided their names.

[22] Human Rights Watch interview with C.S., New York City, June 14, 2001.

[23] See, e.g., Susan Phillips and Barbara Bloom, "In Whose Best Interest? The Impact of Changing Public Policy on Relatives Caring for Children with Incarcerated Parents," Child Welfare Journal Special Issue: Children with Parents in Prison, vol. 127, no.5 (1998).

[24] Human Rights Watch interview with B.R. by telephone, February 9, 2001.

[25] See resources listed in Appendix 2.

[26] Denise Johnston, "Parent-Child Visitation in the Jail or Prison," in Katherine Gabel and Denise Johnston, Eds. Children of Incarcerated Parents (New York: Lexington Books, 1995); and Human Rights Watch interview with Denise Johnston, Pasadena, California, January 31, 2000.

[27] According to the Department of Correctional Services, three-quarters of male and female prison inmates were convicted in New York City. Data on file at Human Rights Watch.

[28] Operation Prison Gap was founded in 1973 by an ex-convict named Ray Simmons, with a single van. The operation today includes some thirty-five buses and vans.

[29] Human Rights Watch interview with P.B., New York City, February 12, 2001.

[30] Barbara Bloom and David Steinhart, Why Punish the Children? (Oakland: National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1993), p. 43.

[31] Human Rights Watch interview with C.J., New York City, March 8, 2001.

[32] Human Rights Watch interview with M.R., New York City, April 9, 2001.

[33] For example, the typical station-to-station connection toll for a collect call from Ulster County to New York City is $1.80. Yet MCI charges a $3.00 toll for station-to-station collect calls by inmates at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Ulster County to New York City.

[34] Use of debit or 1-800 calling should not pose additional security risks. Like collect calls, they can be monitored, limited in time, and restricted to prevent third-party calls. See www.curenational.org/etc (accessed May 17, 2002) for information on the National Campaign to Promote Equitable Telephone Charges. The Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, permits inmates to use a debit card system.

[35] Budget on file at Human Rights Watch.

[36] Quoted in plaintiff's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss in Byrd v. Goord, 00 Civ. 2135 (S.D.N.Y.); the plaintiff's complaint was filed March 21, 2000. 

[37] See Appendix 2 for materials on the impact of parental incarceration on children.

[38] Human Rights Watch interview with M.S., New York City, April 9, 2001.

[39] Human Rights Watch interview with Denise Johnston, Pasadena, California, January 31, 2000.

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