By David Brand
Since April, the Department of Corrections, the Mayor’s Fund and New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray have partnered to ensure that more children have an opportunity to engage with their detained or incarcerated moms in a healthy, constructive environment through Crafting Family Connections.
On Monday, McCray met with moms and kids at a Crafting Family Connections event at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and announced the expansion of the pilot program, which enables detained moms who are charged with or convicted of nonviolent offenses and who have records of good behavior to accompany their children to the museum during special hours.
“I am proud to announce that the City’s innovative Crafting Family Connections program will continue through 2020,” McCray said. “Over the next two years, even more justice-involved families will be able to spend quality time together at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Our hope is that this program, along with a host of other reforms the Department of Correction is leading, will help spur greater change — not just in New York City but across the nation.”
Across the country, mothers make up nearly 80 percent of the female prison population and most are single moms, the Vera Institute of Justice reports. Overall, women inmates account for the fastest-growing prison population in the United States.
When a mother is jailed for a crime, no one is affected more than her children. A child’s separation from a parent can have a devastating impact on his of her emotional development.
“No justice system worth the name indulges in counterproductive cruelty, and needlessly isolating children from their mothers is exactly that,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This program is a step toward more humane justice and correctional systems that do less harm to those who are incarcerated, their families, and their communities.”
Crafting Family Connections is part of a $6 million investment in initiatives designed to break the cycle of incarceration for women in New York City. Women currently make up 6 percent of the population detained on Rikers Island, the DOC reports.
The new programs include efforts to foster family connections, improve behavioral health services and develop a network of re-entry services, the city said in a statement.