This project supports teenagers who have incarcerated loved ones. One in 14 children in the US a parent who is or has been i prison. POPS (Pain of the Prison system) transforms the stigma these young people have faced and the shame they too often feel into hope and healing and a sense of justice that they earn by awakening to their own power and resiliency. The POPS publishing program amplifies the students' voices and visions in annually published, award-winning anthologies.
The growing number of children with an incarcerated parent represents one of the most significant collateral consequences of the record prison population in the U.S. More than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent and approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives. These numbers expand exponentially when they include our population with siblings and other loved ones inside, and returnees from juvenile detention
The solution, truly, is the end of mass incarceration, and these young people are equipped with more wisdom than they know. Too often they do not speak their truths because they are cowed by shame. In our clubs, through shared meals, conversation, mindfulness exercises, writing and making art, students find their power, and their voices grow strong. Every POPS student has an opportunity to publish his or her work with our publishing partners and in our anthologies--and they become our teachers.
We just celebrated our six-year anniversary and in those years have grown from a club at one high school in Southern California to 14 clubs nationwide, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Maryland. We are working hard to meet the need across the country--and the larger and stronger we become, the more likely it is these strong advocates will make a difference in the way our nation misunderstands and misrepresents those hobbled by our addiction to incarceration.