A Message from the International Prisoners Family Conference

There are 2 Primary Reasons Our Advocacy is Not Working.  
Perhaps this will shed light on what has eluded us for decades.
Despite all the outcries significant criminal justice reform has not happened.  Society doesn’t care, no matter how loud we bang on their door.
We all know it’s pure insanity to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.  Never the less, that’s what we keep doing.
It’s time we become WISER, not louder with our outcries.  That requires taking some steps BACKWARD to make greater strides in our advocacy! 
That realization has placed us on a new path to the success that has eluded us.
In all of our outcries WE HAVE IGNORED THE MOST CRITICAL PIECE required to ever achieve change.
OUR FIRST STEP should always have been to prove to society something we as advocates already know:  THE PRISON FAMILY IS FULLY DESERVING of respect; equity; inclusiveness—dignity.
We should not have to do that. Society should see the prison family as human beings like any other members of society.
They should.  But the fact we must face is:  THEY DON’T.  And, here are 2 reasons why:
#1.  All of us fear and avoid what we don’t know.  Society doesn’t know the REAL prison family, so they fear and shun them.
#2.  Society always looks for an easy scapegoat!  Sad, but true.  And the prison family has been an easy scapegoat; retreating instead of advancing.  As a result, society has easily built a lucrative prison industrial complex by discarding prison families as something less than human. 
Harsh, but true.  And, mass incarceration continues to destroy families and erode the quality of life in our communities.
It continues, because society as a whole does not know and therefore does not care about the REAL prison family—the intelligent, skilled, talented valuable people that they are. 
Instead, in fear and ignorance society hangs on to a false CARICATURE of the prison family based on grotesque myths and stereotypes that perpetuate unfounded fears.
The caricature they believe makes it easy for them to disregard; disrespect—DISCARD an entire population—MILLIONS OF HUMAN BEINGS.
The harsh reality is that we can shout and complain and demand change, BUT BEFORE we can expect any real change, society must come to know and care about the REAL prison family. 
If we we stop long enough to put a FACE on the prison family; if we introduce REAL PRISON FAMILY MEMBERS to society in a non-threatening way—no shouting; no rioting; no demanding; no whining; no complaining—if we simply put faces (and stories) of REAL prison family members before their eyes, fears will subside and society won’t so easily discard the prison family.
The “Faces of Mass Incarceration© documentary project is the crucial missing piece in advocacy. 
It is long past due. 
The proposed professionally and sensitively produced documentary has the potential to change society’s view of the prisoner and their loved ones. 
We’ve started it.  Filming of interviews with many prison family members took place at the 2016 InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference.  Bold, courageous family members bared their hearts to tell their stories.
Now, we must have your help to complete it.
View the trailer.  If you agree the proposed documentary has the potential to change hearts and minds when shared liberally with the public—through social media; in community meetings; in college and university classrooms; via webinars, etc.—support it and share it with others.
If you agree the “Faces of Mass Incarceration”© documentary has the potential to open doors for our advocacy, click the link above and donate whatever you can.  $5, $50, $500—it all adds up and we will be able to complete the documentary and begin making the REAL prison family known across the country.
If you have any questions, please let us know.

Your support is needed.  Thank you.
With heartfelt thanks to those who have already supported the project,
Carolyn Esparza, LPC – Conference Chair  

Carolyn Esparza, LPC
Chair, InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference
Co-author, The Unvarnished Truth about the Prison Family Journey

Phone: 915-861-7733
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The InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference is a project of Community Solutions of El Paso, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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