Google #LoveLetters From Kids Of Imprisoned Parents
On Mother’s Day, Google.org ran a campaign called Google #LoveLetters From Kids. While it launched a few weeks ago, it’s a national ongoing campaign to uplift the voices of young people who have an incarcerated parent. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Youtube (owned by Google) asked many of the 2.7 million children living in the United States who have at least one parent incarcerated to share letters they have written to their mother and father. The videos will tear at your heartstrings.
Their hope is #Loveletters From Kids help us all to remember parents behind bars and the devastating human cost of mass incarceration.
Below letter is from Malika Saada Saar Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Counsel – Civil and Human Rights
Back in February, we announced a new effort from Google.org focused on racial justice, including support for organizations working to end mass incarceration. This is a critical issue in the United States, which represents 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prison population. And Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites—in fact, the United States imprisons a larger percentage of its Black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.
An often overlooked fact of mass incarceration is that many first-time, nonviolent offenders who receive prison sentences are parents. There are 2.7 million American children with a parent behind bars, and Black children are 7.5 times more likely to have a parent behind bars than their white counterparts. The experience of having a parent in prison is traumatizing to a child: a new study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that the incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence.
So this Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in an effort to raise awareness of the impact of mass incarceration, we’ve partnered with NGOs on Love Letters: a series of videos that contain children’s messages of love for a mother or father in prison. These digital love letters are demonstrations of the unbreakable love between parent and child, but also of the pain of growing up without a parent present.
The videos reveal a side of mass incarceration that many people don’t get a chance to see. They allow us to bear witness, to be proximate to the very human costs of incarceration. Before I joined Google, I spent years as a human rights lawyer working on criminal justice reform. When I visited women’s prisons, I saw how broken women prisoners were because almost all were mothers to small children. Few received visits from family or children because of how remote women’s prisons usually are. When children did visit, some weren’t allowed to hug or touch their mothers. I also visited detention centers for girls, where many were the daughters of incarcerated mothers. The girls had been trafficked or arrested for running away from group homes or abusive foster placements, and they shared with me the pain of not having a mother there to teach them and protect them.
The impact of mass incarceration is generational and devastating. I hope that after watching these videos, you’ll choose to learn more about the critical work organizations like The Osborne Association, Hour Children, and Google.org grantees Essie Justice, the Ella Baker Center and the Equal Justice Initiative are doing to support children affected by incarceration and to advance criminal justice reform. You can also learn more about mass incarceration on vera.org and contribute to the conversation with #LoveLetters on social media.
Please join Google in supporting organizations that keep parents connected to their children:
Hour Children: http://hourchildren.org
In Arm’s Reach: http://inarmsreach.net
The Osborne Association: http://www.osborneny.org
Essie Justice Group: http://www.essiejusticegroup.org
The Messages Project: http://themessagesproject.org
POPS The Club: https://www.facebook.com/popstheclub
If you would like to share your “love letter” to your incarcerated parent, please upload to YouTube on your own page and tag it: Love Letters.