Training *** Advocacy *** Policy Development

Specialists in the effects of NYS incarceration on prisoners' children and families and how to best
encourage their success, Family Strengthening through Information, Support and Community-Building,
Prison Family and Re-entry Resource Development for
Schools, Communities, Churches, Government (NY State and Federal)

Statewide *** Confidential

PFNY

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New!! - DOCS Press Release 8/31/07 re: Families of Prisoners

PFNY - A Brief History

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Support Groups for Families and Friends of Prisoners:

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Coping Tips for Families

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Having a place to go - is a home.
Having someone to love - is a family.
Having both - is a blessing.

-- Donna Hedges

Message from PFNY's Director

Prison Families of New York has very limited resources at this time and is unable to personally respond to your concerns. However, there are still as number of ways we may be able to help you.

www.newyorkinmatefamilies.org is for anyone with a loved one in a NYS prison, about to go to prison or has come home. It also allows some providers to join. There is a short application process (to keep spammers off the site) and you will be asked your for location (city or town) and email address. It is free and confidential. Once you have joined, you will find a wealth of information about all prison/prison family/parole/family reunification topics and you will be able to just read, read and reply or post your own new questions and comments. On that site, you will find links to support groups and events all over the state, as well as good information about handling all criminal justice problems.

In Albany, there is a weekly support group every Monday, 7-8:30 pm at 373 Central Avenue (The Womens Building, between Quail and Ontario Streets, 2 doors down from McDonald's). It is also free and confidential and a very good place to get support, accurate information and get ideas about solving prison-related problems. There are monthly speakers from the NYS Department of Correctional Services, Parole and many other agencies. For that group, you can just show up--but it is best to be on time so you won't miss anything and can meet the facilitators. Once you attend, you will be added to the email list for announcement, bad-weather cancellations, speakers, etc.

If you need to contact state corrections (NYS DOCS), you can call their Office of Ministerial and Family Services at 518-402-1700 or the main office in Albany at 518-457-7329. The 1st number handles the Free Buses. The main office handles all kinds of issues that may arise at the individual prisons.

In New York City, The Osborne Association has a helpline for prison families at 800-344-3314. They can assist with support groups, transportation info and more.

Thanks for coming to our site. Prison Families of New York, Inc.

PFNY - A Brief History

I became a NYS prison family member in 1981, when my husband was sentenced to 25 years to life for robbery 3 (no weapon and no injury). We had small children who missed their dad, and I was determined to keep our family together. It was stunning to find that there was no support group, no community of prison families to join, no accurate and complete information about prisons, visiting or resources in other communities that I would have to travel to.

Someone high in state government told me 2 important things--that I would have to create what I needed and that I could, because I was an EXPERT. So, I did. During the 1980's PFNY did local work, through a weekly group for families and one for children; case management for people coming home from prison and their families; community building and marshalling resources from churches, agencies and concerned individuals. For years, at holiday time, state agencies such as DOCS, Parole and the NYS Commission of Correction "adopted" our prison families for the holidays--and we found help from them around the year as well.

PFNY took a hiatus of some years and returned in 2000 to find that while the numbers of NYS prisons and prisoners had multiplied shockingly, almost nothing had been created locally or statewide for prison families. State agencies often treated us as criminals ourselves. We realized that our work would have to be around changes in rules, regulations, laws, policies and practice and that we would have to organize statewide.

The Center for Constitutional Rights invited us to work with them on the Campaign for Telephone Justice, which has recently seen success through the NYS Court of Appeals and Governor Spitzer's decision to end the 57% kickback to NYS on prison collect telephone calls. Prison families who get strong naturally want to help each other. The "each one teach one" model has worked well for us over 25+ years and we now number in the tens of thousands.

My husband came home from prison after 25 years, almost to the day. He is now a working, tax-paying, productive citizen who takes care of us and works with youth who have parents in prison. Our children are young adults who missed life with dad at home, but our family stayed strong through the friends and allies I found over the decades. We invite you to get involved by talking to us about your vision, your resources and your concern for our communities.

Alison Coleman
March, 2007

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