My name is Cecily Coleman. I am 27 years old. I am a person of color and have a degree in criminal justice. In October, 2005, my father was released from NYS prisons after 25 years, for a non-violent crime. He and I had maintained a special daughter/father bond all those years, I visited him as often as possible and talked to him on the phone at least every week.
There are about 63,000 prisoners in NYS prisons alone and most of them have children--but we hardly ever hear about what it is like for those children--at home, in school, in their communities and in prison visiting rooms. We are a population of children that has not been recognized in the past. Our society does not discuss our feelings, our challenges, our distinct medical issues and our futures except to say that we are at risk and may well end up in prison, too. Obviously, I did not and there are many like me-and there would be more who do well if they had the understanding and support of the educators, pastors, doctors and program staff who work with them.
Many prisoners’ children enter juvenile facilities where our issues and our complicated feelings about our incarcerated parents continue to go unaddressed.
Through the agency Prison Families of New York, Inc. in Albany, I work with prisoners' children and people who care about us, anywhere. I help to start support groups and visit those groups to talk to children of all ages, provide trainings for staff so that they really understand what having a loved one in prison is like for us and how that affects our school work, health, relationships, self-esteem, and so much more. I present talks in communities that want to help us with our special issues.
If you would like to discuss how I can help your school, agency, medical practice, church, your family or your neighbor's family, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Cecily J. Coleman
Prison Families of New York, Inc.
40 North Main Avenue
Albany, NY 12203