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Digital Love Letters for fathers who are incarcerated

This past Mother's Day, we shared #LoveLetters, a partnership among nonprofits to give the children of incarcerated parents a chance to have their voices heard. Today, in celebration of Father’s Day, you can watch Love Letters for incarcerated fathers. This work is part of our continued commitment to raising awareness about racial injustice, and to bearing witness to the human costs of mass incarceration. 

The costs of mass incarceration have disproportionately affected the lives of Black men. From 1980 to 2007, about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African-American. And if that current trend continues, one in three Black boys born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime. All in all, we’re now at a point where there are more African-American men incarcerated in the U.S. than the total prison populations of India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined.

Many of these men are also fathers—and their children have suffered greatly. The loss of a father to incarceration adversely affects children’s educational, social and emotional well-being, even decades later. Children with an incarcerated parent are three times more likely to have behavioral problems or depression, and at least twice as likely to suffer from learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and anxiety. 

This is what Love Letters conveys: the hurt of the children left behind—and the enduring bond between a child and a parent despite the barrier of prison walls. So for Father's Day, we worked with the NGOs Pops the Club and Place4Grace to encourage children and youth in California to share their love letters to their fathers behind bars. We're also working with the California Department of Corrections to share the video with fathers behind bars throughout the state.

To learn about criminal justice reform legislation now going through Congress, visit sentencingproject.org, vera.org, or brennancenter.org. As David Drummond, Alphabet’s vice president of corporate development, said at an event this week: “We like disruption, and if there’s a system worth disrupting, it’s the criminal justice system.” We hope that by raising awareness about the impact of mass incarceration on children and families, we can help to change it. Please join us in this effort—watch the video and share with #LoveLetters on social media.