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Family Matters

Family Matters

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November 03rd 2015:Prisons and Families: What Happens When a Family Member Is Incarcerated?

Most people have no idea what happens to the rest of the family when one of its members goes to prison. Having been “in the trenches” doing research with women in that situation, Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson describes the way they often feel grief as if someone died but cannot get closure. The whole family may be symbolically imprisoned, feeling as though they, too, are serving a prison sentence while their loved one serves time. Challenges may include a sense of shame, social stigma, financial strains, lack of social support, and altered family dynamics. The affected individuals often remain in a lo

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Avon Hart-Johnson

Avon Hart-Johnson, Ph.D. is the president of DC Project Connect, a nonprofit that helps inmates and their families stay connected. She teaches life skills at Washington DC’s only half-way house for women. She is an international conference speaker who describes the consequences of mass incarceration on families. Her ground-breaking research revealed how incarceration of a loved one may be affecting millions of prisoners’ families. Women grieved for imprisoned loved ones began to isolate themselves socially, as if they were on “house arrest” due to shame, stigma, and lack of social support. Dr. Hart-Johnson is the chairperson of the Advocacy in Action committee for the International Prisoner
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