ACEs in the Criminal Justice System

Discussion and sharing of resources in working with clients involved in the criminal justice system and how screening for and treating ACEs will lead to successful re-entry of prisoners into the community and reduced recidivism for former offenders.

Recent Blog Posts

Suit: A federal jail in Philly is stopping kids from seeing their dads (

Marie Gottschalk, a University of Pennsylvania political scientist and author of the 2014 book Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics, said that the courts have typically given prisons wide berth to adopt restrictive policies in the name of security.

"There's a broader trend across the country of making it more difficult to visit people who are incarcerated," she said. "We're seeing greater use of videotaping rather than letting people come visit. It's part of dehumanizing people in prison. It's also making their reentry much more difficult."

That's not to mention the impact on children. Having an incarcerated parent, she said, is linked with mental health problems, behavioral issues and depression in particular.

"Many times, people think, the person in prison committed a crime, so it's better for the kid to be away. But what we've found for most kids is, unless there was abuse against a parent or the child, it's very helpful for the parent to be able to see the child. Denying that contact on top of the issues the child is already facing is going to make those issues even more severe."

To read more of Samantha Malamed's article, please click here.


Program looks to stop the Skid Row to jail pipeline (

It was the men's first meeting, a time to establish the basics: the man had been homeless on Skid Row for about three years, yes, he was getting out in a couple weeks, and no, he had nowhere to go. And that's what made him a candidate for the Office of Diversion and Reentry's housing program.

If follow-up visits yield what they're designed to, the man will move into temporary housing when he gets out of jail, and then on to a permanent apartment, where his rent will be subsidized by L.A. County, and he'll be visited by a case manager and mental health worker. The big idea is to get him into housing and out of the pipeline that runs between Skid Row and L.A.'s jails. 

Pay for success is a new concept to L.A. County, but has been used elsewhere to encourage government agencies to innovate by outsourcing some of the financial risk of trying something new to the private sector. In this instance, a group of private investors, including United Healthcare and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, has given ODR funds to scale the program to 300 new clients--and if successful, the county pays the investors back. 

To read more of Rina Palta's article, please click here.

Federal Bill Would Reverse Perverse Incentives for Mass Incarceration []

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

Even as President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions descend into a law-and-order authoritarianism that views mass incarceration as a good thing, Democrats in Congress are moving to blunt such tendencies. A bill introduced last week in the House is a prime example.

Last Wednesday, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) filed the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act of 2017 (HR 3845), which would use the power of the federal purse to reduce both crime and incarceration at the same time. Under the bill, states that decreased the number of prisoners by 7% over three years without a substantial increase in crime would be eligible for grants.

The grants would come from the Justice Department and would be awarded "to implement evidence-based programs designed to reduce crime rates and incarcerations," according to the bill text.

[For more on this story, go to]

Photo: House Reverse Mass Incarceration Act sponsor Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA)

Bail or Jail? Tool Used by San Francisco Courts Shows Promising Results (

Last year, San Francisco began using an algorithm  to assess whether someone accused of a crime and awaiting trial is safe to be let out of jail.

Fifteen months later, prosecutors say the risk assessment tool appears to be working: According to information provided to KQED by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, just 6 percent of defendants who were released from jail based on the “public safety assessment,” or PSA, over those 15 months committed a new crime; 20 percent failed to appear in court.

The findings come at a crucial time: California leaders are weighing legislation that could expand this type of risk assessment tool to all 58 counties in the state. Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill - which Gov. Jerry Brown and California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye have promised to support -  that would reduce the use of money bail and create pretrial service agencies, like the one in San Francisco that administers the PSA tool.

To read more of Marisa Lagos' article, please click here.

Children of imprisoned parents get Oregon bill of rights []

"The first state law of its kind..." reads the article! A big thanks to Oregon law makers for pioneering law supporting the rights of children of incarcerated parents. On Tuesday September 19th, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law a bill of rights for Oregon's children requiring the Oregon Department of Corrections to develop and sustain policies and procedures supporting the needs of families, and protecting the rights of children, when parents are incarcerated. This legislation is one of many passed by the Oregon legislature in June 2017 related to a more family-centered approach to Oregon’s correctional population.

The goal of this particular piece of legislation was also the subject of a film, Mothering Inside by Portland filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, featuring the work of the Family Preservation Project. This program, run by the Greater Portland YWCA, “promotes individual and system level change to reduce the collateral consequences of parental incarceration…”

Gov. Kate Brown signed a “bill of rights” for the children of parents serving prison sentences into law on Tuesday, Sept. 19, making Oregon the first state in the country to have such a law. 

Advocates hope that by establishing a bill of rights for the children of incarcerated parents, Oregon’s state agencies – human services and the criminal justice and foster care systems, especially – will create policies that reduce trauma experienced by children and allow them to maintain stronger ties with their imprisoned parents. 

“We know that a large part of what helps with re-entry is having families that are intact,” Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), a chief sponsor of the legislation, told Street Roots. “Children of incarcerated parents are victims, as well, of what happens. Their needs are rarely taken into consideration by the courts, by the police.” 

Follow here to read more from Amanda Waldroupe about Oregon’s state law designed to minimize the trauma experienced by children of incarcerated parents.

New program lets jail inmates rehabilitate shelter dogs (

A new program helping jail inmates and at-risk shelter dogs get a new chance at life is off to a good start.

A nonprofit organization called Pivot Animal Rescue & Educational Outreach offers training programs for both incarcerated adults and juveniles in detention centers.

"We are targeting the people that are the repeat offenders. We are trying to get that person who keeps coming back, trying to communicate with them in a different way," said Pivot board director John Brockus.

The pilot program called "Ruff Road" launched at the Todd Road Jail facility in Ventura County.

To read more of Alys Martinez' article, please click here.

Breaking the cycle: County jail programs guiding inmates toward better choices []

Hubbard County, MN

Christina Day, Hubbard County Jail Programs Coordinator is finding success with new support groups, classes and programs in the correctional facility as well as stronger support systems outside the facility. “Day and her team of volunteers are proponents of the power of positivity, empowering people to set goals, believe in themselves and make better choices.”

“That's where I feel our role, as far as myself and the other volunteers and instructors that come in and even jail staff, have to be able to show them kindness and some compassion and understanding. Most of the time it's a generational trauma. They don't know a different way. So now this is our way of showing them a different way."

Pictured above: An art class is among the programs at the Hubbard County Jail designed to help inmates foster positive behavior and set goals. (Submitted photo)

[For more of this story, written by Shannon Geisen, go to http://www.parkrapidsenterpris...oward-better-choices]

Bill would require more mental health screening for some state convicts (

A state legislative bill that would require judges in certain cases to consider a defendant’s mental health during sentencing was approved by the Legislature this week and is headed for Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The bill, AB 154, would require judges to make a recommendation to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that a convicted felon receive a mental health evaluation if mental illness played a role in the crime. North Coast Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, author of the bill, said he hopes those evaluations will lead to more treatment for prisoners who need it.

Last year, there were about 30,000 state prison inmates with some form of mental illness, ranging from mild depression to schizophrenia, said Randall Hagar, a spokesman for the California Psychiatric Association.

That represents about 25 percent of the state’s total prison population.

To read more of Martin Espinoza's article, please click here.

How One Connection at CYW’s ACEs Conference Sparked Awareness into Action

Anyone who attended last year’s ACEs Conference hosted by the Center for Youth Wellness knows there was an exceptional line-up of speakers. From Nadine Burke-Harris and her welcoming remarks to Bryan Stevenson’s closing keynote, there were many inspirational examples of work being done to push the ACEs movement “from awareness to action.” The format of the conference also encouraged interaction of attendees, which was a strong reminder that sparks of change can originate in unexpected places. I noticed this even before the conference started. As I was waiting in line to pick up my badge, I struck up a conversation with the person standing next to me in line. This experience was a reminder that you just never know who you will meet and what type of journey you might end up on together.

That first conversation that Andi Fetzner and I had in that registration line set the tone for the development of a shared vision. After working together for several months, we decided to formally partner under Origins Training & Consulting, a firm focused on supporting leaders transform their organizations and communities through the science of adversity and resilience.

Origins offers a number of training and consulting services. We developed The Basics as a half-day session to provide the foundation to support trauma-informed and resilience practices across sectors and industries. The session includes an overview of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, the neurobiology of toxic stress, the impact of social and historical trauma, and the science of resilience. We have tested The Basics with two cross-sector audiences, in Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Our vision includes the following principles:

  • The beginning is always a good place to start. Trauma-informed and resilient communities understand not only the interventions and policies but also the reason behind them. A solid foundation increases investment and creativity in implementation of these practices.
  • We need to talk about resilience. While the ACEs framework and the language of trauma-informed practices are important, resilience is where the magic happens.
  • Resilience is rooted in culture. Trauma-informed organizations and communities embed resilience principles into all interactions and communication.
  • Language matters. In order for organizations and communities to adopt this paradigm shift, a common language and understanding must be shared by everyone.
  • We all need to be accountable. Resilience requires an understanding of and accountability for how each individual’s behavior plays a role in how our systems and communities operate.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work. Communities can come together in the interest of developing solutions to their specific struggles. There is an opportunity to learn from others who are doing similar work in different sectors.
  • It’s ok to make mistakes. Achieving resilience is a process. Establishing safety in risk-taking supports that process.


A bit about Andi and me…With a background in healthcare systems, strategic planning and project management, I, like many others who are working in the ACEs movement, experienced a lightbulb moment several years ago when I stumbled across the ACE study for the first time and wondered why I had never heard of it before.  Shouldn’t this have been covered on day 1 of my Masters of Public Health program? With this perspective in mind, I started shifting my own consulting to focus on ACEs-related work. This included leading strategic planning and supporting organizational development for Trauma Free DC, a coalition with the goal of raising awareness of and reducing the impact of ACEs in the Washington, DC area. I have since relocated to Davis, CA and am an active member of Resilient Yolo and am an ACE Interface trainer.

Andi has a background in providing both clinical and non-clinical direct service to children, adults, and families. In helping them navigate the various systems of care, she realized the need for a standard in language that integrated the principles of ACEs Science. Over the past several years, she has expanded her efforts to meet this need by training across-sectors, focusing on trauma-informed and resilience practices. She has been very active in the ACEs Consortium in Phoenix and in Southern Arizona. When we met, she had just launched her own training and consulting business focused on ACEs and trauma-informed practices. She now serves on the steering committee of the Trauma Informed Taskforce of Greater Los Angeles.

If you are interested in learning more about Origins, please email us at, visit our website at, or check out our interactive attached flyer with links to our social media. You can also click here to follow us on social media @originstc or

This stuff is simple, but it’s not easy. Let’s get back to The Basics.

We hope you will join us on this journey.


Fathers & ACEs with Trauma Dad & Father's Uplift CEO: Tuesday, September 12th

What supports exist to "uplift" fathers who have survived abandonment, abuse or torture as children? Where can men go to discuss the joys, struggles and issues of being a father with ACEs? 

Where are the men who face hard, heavy and complicated realities to make life easier and lighter for all who come after? We found two of them and they will be the featured guests in the next Parenting with ACEs chat.

Meet Charles Clayton Daniels, Jr. of Father's Uplift and "Trauma Dad" Byron Hamel. Both are fathers, mentors and advocates who support men's wellness and parenting.   

Charles Clayton Daniels, Jr. / Father's Uplift

C. Clayton Daniels, Jr.

Charles Clayton Daniels Jr. is CEO of Father's Uplift. He is a social worker who has worked at the Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts. Though he seemed "outwardly successful" as a young adult, he struggled with life-threatening depression. His father was absent for the second half of his childhood. Through Father's Uplift, Daniels helps men overcome the barriers that keep them from fathering and instead supports, encourages and "uplifts"  fathers. The Father's Uplift mission is as follows: 

"... to assist fathers in overcoming barriers (financial barriers, addiction barriers, oppressive barriers, emotional barriers and traumatic barriers) that prevent them from remaining engaged in their children's lives. Fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. Fathers' Uplift is here to help each father reach their potential for themselves and the children in their lives. We uplift fathers and strengthen families nationwide through service, love, and encouragement."

 Byron Hamel (AKA Trauma Dad)Byron Hamel (AKA Trauma Dad)

Byron Hamel (AKA Trauma Dad) is a filmmaker, advocate for men's wellness and children's rights. He is a single father with "ACEs through the roof" who survived child torture at the hands of a man now on death row for murdering a baby. He applies his life experience to the goals of protecting children and educating communities about child abuse prevention. He also helps other abuse survivors understand and learn how to cope, parent and stay healthy while managing complex post-traumatic stress. He has felt post-disclosure pain and judgment by others who he says have "weaponized" his past even though he is a loving father and his children are in a safe and loving home.

"A Cycle Broken", one of Hamel's films,  documents the child protection organization Guardians of the Children, Canada, a group of bikers who protect and support abused children. "If I Go Missing" is another riveting documentary airing on Bravo this year. It is about children's rights advocate Brianna Jonnie, an Indigenous 14-year-old girl who stood up to a racist system and asked for equal treatment and service for Indigenous kids and teens who go missing.  

Our amazing guests will be discussing these topics and their work:

  • Fathering through Crisis & Depression
  • Stigma & Share after Abuse & Disclosure
  • Health, Happiness & Healing After Abuse
  • Making Childhood Safe for Our Kids
  • What Dads Need: Personal & Social Change
  • ACEs Awareness for Families

Cost: Free
When: Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Time: 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST
Where: Parenting with ACEs Group.

Open to all parents, professionals, survivors and allies. We hope you join us.

To Attend Chat Event on Sept. 12th @ 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST:

Note: If you can't make the live event you can still participate. You can leave questions, comments or share stories or resources about fathers and ACEs. How?Go to scheduled chat and post a comment (see example, below). 

Add content
Your comment won't appear until the chat event goes live, online, but please know it will be shared with all chat attendees. You can come back and review transcript any time. All past chat transcripts are archived here.

Remaining Chats Scheduled for 2017

Questions/Comments: Contact Cissy White at