The Public Square

Conrad Wetzel on When a Parent is in Prison


My name is Conrad Wetzel, and I live in Champaign. My comment is about the effects on children because of having a parent in prison. In her new book, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated, Nell Bernstein asks us to 'See' the children of incarcerated Americans. One in ten American children has a parent who is under penal supervision incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. One in eight African-American children has a parent behind bars today. One-half of all boys who have a parent in jail or prison will also wind up incarcerated.

As Bernstein noted, "These children have committed no crime, but the price they are forced to pay is steep. They forfeit, too, much of what matters to them: their homes, their safety, their public status and private self-image, their primary source of comfort and affection. Their lives are profoundly affected . . . "

An exhibit, "When a Parent is in Prison" explores the situation of children who have a parent in prison through their portraits and words. The twelve young people, who are portrayed in the exhibit by large photographs and stories, are among the 2,400,000 American children who have a mother or father in prison. The photographs of the children were done by world-renowned photographer and author, Howard Zehr, Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University. The exhibit is a joint documentary project of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the Mennonite Central Committee.

Restorative justice fosters supervised dialog between offenders and their victims, resulting in offenders taking responsibility, offering apology, and making reparation for their offences. Restorative processes which foster dialog between the offender and the victim show the highest rates of victim satisfaction, true accountability by the offender, and reduced recidivism

This exhibit, "When a Parent Is in Prison," will be shown at the UC Independent Media Center, 202 South Broadway in Urbana. It will be on display from November 1 - 21, 2009. There will be an exhibit opening on Sunday, November 1, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The exhibit, which is sponsored by the Mennonite Church in Urbana, is free and open to the Public. You may Call 217-352-8603 for more information.

Please join us at the Independent Media Center for the exhibit opening on November 1 and on display from November 1 - 21, 2009.