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New America Media presents portraits of parents returning home from incarceration through the eyes of their children.

The single most accurate predictor for successful re-entry is strong family bonds. And no group has a stronger vested interest in re-establishing relations with ex-prisoners than their children. Like children of divorce, they bear the brunt of separation and yearn for an integrated family life. With the recent implementation of Governor Jerry Brown's prison realignment policy, county officials are debating what they can do with constrained resources to avoid replicating the prison overcrowding problem in county jails. Some are looking to adopt "family-centric" strategies to prevent recidivism. Produced by young reporters at Richmond Pulse and Silicon Valley De-Bug, these videos tell the evolving stories of six families.


“I Can't Just Be Done With My Mom” by David Meza

When Alisha’s drug-addicted mom was preparing for her release from state prison, she asked her daughter Alisha to be her caretaker. Alisha said “no.” Alisha spent the first nine years of her mother’s incarceration, release, and re-incarceration cycle as a child, and as she enters into her own adulthood, she is finding her mom’s absence and chaotic lifestyle an even more bitter pill to swallow.



“I Want to be Like Him When I Grow Up” by Daniel Zapian

Greg was just released after a being incarcerated most of his life. To his great surprise, his son has taken him under his wing, looking after him while his other sons won’t even talk with him. Greg is so grateful for his son’s support, he says, “I want to be like him when I grow up.”



“Baby Quintero” by Valerie Klinker

The one thing that Suzie couldn’t handle while in prison was not being able to protect her daughter, Baby. Baby spent 2 months in juvenile hall while her mom was incarcerated. But now that her mom has returned home with a new job and a newfound sense of self-worth, Baby considers herself her mom’s backbone.



“Life Lost, Family Found” by Anthony May

Ever since Nate’s dad left his family when he was 8 years old, Nate has never fully recovered. Nate went on to join a gang and spent 20 years in state prison for a murder charge. But after his first year behind bars, something special happened in his life. He had a baby girl. Now that Nate’s been released, he is piecing together the relationship with his daughter that for 20 years has been limited to letters, and a few visits to the state penitentiary.



“A Reentry to Motherhood” by Jean Melesaine

Steeda is finding life with her two young girls to be not exactly what she had envisioned from behind bars. Transitioning from prison life to the responsibilities of motherhood is a struggle that Stacy faces daily -- but she doesn’t do it alone. Steeda stands with other mothers in similar situations through the organization she founded, Sisters That Been There, which is a peer support group for women reentering society after incarceration.



“Joey Visits Lisa” by Jean Melesaine

Joey, hadn't seen her mother Lisa since she was incarcerated 18 years ago. Joey and Lisa’s attorney make the drive to visit Lisa for the first time in 20 years, causing everyone in the car to reflect on their relationship to Lisa, even the attorney.



“Joshua & Kenny — A Father Lost, and Found” by Sean Shavers

Joshua Davis, was four years old when his father Kenny was sent to prison. But instead of returning to the blissful times of Joshua’s childhood when his father came home five years later, Joshua and his father began to resent each other. Today it has been nine years since Kenny’s release and Joshua has lost interest in his father and building a relationship with him. But despite the distance between Joshua and Kenny in their relationship, they actually live on the same block, seeing each other only on holidays and at the local corner store.



“Angela Birts” by Fernando Perez

Angela says she has a positive relationship with her father, despite the fact that for 18 years he’s been behind bars. The physical barrier erected between Angela and her father has become even more painful as her life presents more and more opportunities that she wants to enjoy with her father there. As she prepares for a potential new life with her dad, she realizes that she too will need help with the transition