house resolution no.104

Reps. Dievendorf, Edwards, Martus, Miller, Byrnes, Hill, Paiz, Morgan, Coffia, Hope, Steckloff, Neeley, O'Neal, McFall, Hoskins, Brenda Carter, Young, Puri, Haadsma, Tyrone Carter, Glanville, Brixie, MacDonell, Wegela, Wilson, Andrews, McKinney, Brabec, Tsernoglou, Rheingans, Scott and Farhat offered the following resolution:

A resolution to declare May 2023 as National Prisoner Family Month in the state of Michigan.

Whereas, Families of the incarcerated deserve to have the necessary information to advocate and stay connected with their loved one while they are inside the prison system, allowing them to be more supportive once their loved one returns home; and

Whereas, The Michigan Department of Corrections has created a Family Reunification Policy to ensure incarcerated individuals are able to interact with their family throughout their term of incarceration and acknowledge families represent a key pillar of success during incarceration and post-release as individuals return to their communities; and

Whereas, The department acknowledges the importance of working constructively with families as a part of its larger mission; and

Whereas, A number of policies and procedures of the criminal legal system and prison system are harmful and build walls between families and prevent family inclusion; and

Whereas, Families of the incarcerated recognize the intersecting systems of oppression and stigma that silence the voices of legal impacted families, particularly people of color, children, women, people with disabilities or mental illness, and people with diverse genders and sexualities; and

Whereas, Not only does parental incarceration increase a child’s risk of living in poverty, it also elevates risk for school problems, mental health diagnoses, family disconnection, drug and alcohol use and delinquent behavior; and

Whereas, African American children and Latino children are at the highest risk of experiencing a parent incarcerated. These children also have a higher chance of being placed in foster care when a mother is incarcerated. In Michigan, black youth represent 50% of those in foster care and are less likely to be reunited with their biological families than white youth; and

Whereas, The National Institute of Justice reports that children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system, in particular, face a host of challenges and difficulties: psychological strain, antisocial behavior, suspension, or expulsion from school, and criminal activity; and 

Whereas, Children of incarcerated people deserve to have a meaningful relationship with their parent and should not be further separated or punished by the taking of their family visits if the family members have not violated visiting rules; and

Whereas, Incarceration is also tied to a number of other negative life outcomes that impact one’s social and economic mobility, including higher rates of homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and physical and mental health concerns; and

Whereas, In 2021 Prison Policy Initiative reports that visitation, mail, phone, and other forms of contact between incarcerated people and their families have positive impacts for everyone — including better health, reduced recidivism, and improvement in school; and

Whereas, Families of the incarcerated know firsthand how involvement in the legal system destabilizes and demoralizes families and entire communities, When a person enters prison, they are often the sole provider for their family, causing significant economic hardship; and

Whereas, Families, including those members who are inside and outside of prison, are a powerful driving force in the transformation of the U.S. criminal legal and prison systems; and

Whereas, It is necessary for the input of those impacted families and communities to inform and partner on viable and racially equitable solutions to prevent entanglement in the legal system, improve prison conditions, promote successful reentry, and stop the revolving door to prison; and

Whereas, We envision a society in which families have equitable access to the services and resources needed to keep their loved ones safe and at home; that civil and human rights of those who are incarcerated are respected and upheld; that prisons, jails and community-based programs foster learning and growth by facilitating opportunities for education and employment; and that legal-impacted families have genuine opportunities to participate in decision-making that directly impacts families; and

Whereas, If we want to stop the intergenerational cycle of incarceration, we must intervene with families early, often, and in a way that inspires hope rather than perpetuates trauma; and

Whereas, Families believe that a grassroots network of educated, empowered family advocates is essential to shift the prison culture of shame, fear, and anger to one of support, empowerment, and hope. Families across the state have learned the benefits of becoming connected and supported by others who share this same difficult journey and find it necessary to be connected to such a support system; and

Whereas, Families believe this vision can only be achieved by addressing these oppressive systems that impact the most vulnerable and historically marginalized; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, That the members of this legislative body declare May 2023 as National Prisoner Family Month in the state of Michigan.