The Family Unity Project’s work spans the following programmatic areas:
- Support parental rights of incarcerated mothers and fathers
- Expand visiting and other programs to maintain family bonds
- Improve conditions of confinement for women who give birth while incarcerated
- End long-term solitary confinement
- Advocate for real alternatives to incarceration and parole
Our strategies include:
- Policy advocacy: In 2017, we campaigned to require jails to provide in-person visiting rooms & hours. The recent move to limit visitation to video-only adds another for-profit mechanism that burdens families of incarcerated people while simultaneously denying people face-to-face, in-person contact.
- Trainings: We train legal services providers in incarceration’s impact on family law matters. We train incarcerated mothers to advocate in court for themselves in order to maintain their parental rights. We provide mentorship and clinical experience to law students, undergraduates and other interns.
- Litigation: We are currently co-counsel in Ashker v Governor of California, a class action suit initially filed on behalf of people incarcerated in long-term solitary confinement in Pelican Bay State Prison.
- Manuals: We provide legal manuals for people in prison as well as for their family members, other advocates and attorneys. Our Incarcerated Parents Manual is our most requested manual. Family Unity Project publications are in the Resource Library.
- Reports: We research and issue reports on specific policy areas, such as:
- STOP SHACKLING: A report on the written policies of California’s counties on the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in labor,
- NO MORE SHACKLES II: A follow-up report on California County’s written policies under the 2012 law limiting restraint of pregnant prisoners – August 2017
- CALIFORNIA’S MOTHER-INFANT PRISON PROGRAMS: An Investigation.
- Community education & coalition building: Family Unity Project is an active participant in the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition providing support and public information regarding the human rights violations in California’s solitary confinement cells.
- Media work: LSPC’s Family Unity Project receives requests for information and interviews from journalists around the United States regarding the impact of prison policies on family relationships and on the issue of solitary confinement. We have provided background and direct quotes for scores of stories on these and related issues.
- Individual consultations and referrals. We regularly respond to requests for information from family members, legal service offices, and other service providers.