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Mentoring prisoners' children, the real Friends

Reader feedback - 8.30.06 


"But the ferry was a risk worth taking. It cost what it cost. The biggest problem isn't the cost, it's that the cost wasn't anticipated. And because of that, the cost came as a shock, first to public officials and then to the public." ("Some Lessons from the Ferry Report," August 2.)

Do you really believe the ferry was a risk worth taking? Have you been jonesing so bad to get to Toronto that both a route by land or air was out of the question? What, by god, is so attractive about Toronto?

And for Canadians, why Rochester? To see a run-down city, void of life? No need to nitpick about cultural highlights. But man, when the school budget shortfall was roughly the same dollar amount as the cost of the ferry, you'd choose boating over education?

No wonder this place is a joke. We should have just bought a monorail, and then people could have circled the city without actually engaging. Who, who, who, in their right mind would think a ferry would be salvation for swillburg? The biggest problem wasn't the cost of the ferry, it was the idea of the ferry. It was a stupid idea. Stupid.Period.

Bill Ribas, Northfield Gate, Pittsford


Thank you for Tim Louis Macaluso's story about children of incarcerated parents (August 9). This article did a tremendous community service by helping raise awareness of the many families drastically affected by incarceration.

At Compeer, we are well aware of this growing issue. In the US alone, 2 million children currently have a parent in prison. Here in MonroeCounty, an estimated 13,000 children have a parent behind bars. Statistics show that these kids have a 70 percent chance of ending up in prison, too.

In addition to the obvious disruption in the parent-child relationship, these young people --- as portrayed in your article --- often face enormous economic, social, and emotional burdens. Mentoring programs have been successful in helping lead them on a path toward a brighter future, by reducing first-time drug and alcohol use, improving relationships, and reducing the likelihood they will turn to crime and violence.

That is why Compeer --- in collaboration with the CatholicFamilyCenter --- is committed to serving these children through our Mentoring Children of Promise program. This program links volunteer mentors with children who have a parent in a state or federal prison. Compeer matches get together weekly, sharing quality time doing everyday things, from going to the library and walking in the park to attending school, community, and sporting events.

Our program's mission is to improve these children's ability to function in school, to improve their self-esteem and socialization, and to instill a sense of purpose and optimism about the future. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor should call Compeer at 546-8280 or visit our website (

Dana Frame, executive director, Compeer Rochester


I appreciated Tim Macaluso's article, "Children of the Incarcerated" (August 9). The Children's Center at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, established by the Osborne Association, operates on the premise that meaningful contact between incarcerated fathers and their children can have a positive impact on both. Inside the center, fathers can hug and hold their children, read books and play computer games with them, and help them make key chains out of colored string.

La Bodega de la Familia on Manhattan's Lower East Side combines case management, direct service, and faith in the prospect of redemption in a program to foster family reunification when prisoners return to society. Walk-in services and a 24-hour crisis hotline are available to returning prisoners, their children, and other relatives. The parole department has assigned six parole officers to work exclusively with Bodega clients and their families. Bodega case managers accompany parole officers to pre-release visits at the prisons, and parole officers join case managers at family meetings.

The Oregon Department of Corrections works closely with other state and non-profit agencies known as the Children of Incarcerated Parents Project. Oregon inmates have access to parenting classes and special visits where they receive feedback from a family therapist.

Mothers at Oregon's Coffee Creek Correctional Facility are permitted to participate in an on-site Early Head Start program, where youngsters spend twice-weekly, three-hour stretches with their mothers in a pre-school-like setting.

A Girl Scouts Beyond Bars has been established at this prison, allowing mothers and their daughters to participate in bimonthly troop meetings inside the institution. Outside the prison, the corrections department and the Portland Relief Nursery provide case management and family support to children, their caregivers, and their parents upon release from prison.

Rochester is fortunate to have a program such as Project Cope that arranges for adult volunteers to be mentors for children of an imprisoned parent. There is a need for more of the kind of projects described above, but as Nell Bernstein points out in her book "All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated," "they exist in piecemeal form, scattered across the nation, serving a small percentage of the families who need them, and often with no reliable source of funding from one year to the next."

Considering that children of an incarcerated parent are 10 times more likely than other children to become incarcerated themselves, all of us should support the creation of programs designed to prevent this from happening.

Macaluso's article concluded with a portrait of Carlene Covington, who is trying to remain clean and sober, to improve her relationships with her children, and to prove wrong a prison guard's prediction of recidivism. I wish Covington every success in her effort.

Joel Freedman, North Main Street, Canandaigua (Freedman is a volunteer writer for the Judicial Process Commission's newsletter, Justicia.)


If DaynaPapaleo ("Put Your Faith in the Internet," August 16) has been led to the Quakers by the Belief-O-Matic website, then she should use the Internet or to find Quakers (AKA the Religious Society of Friends) right here in Rochester. Or she could even look us up in the telephone book.

We don't make and have never made oatmeal and have not dressed or otherwise looked like the guy on the oatmeal carton for more than a century. But we still believe in peace, simplicity, tolerance, respect, equality, forgiveness, truth-telling, and the other good things that Jesus of Nazareth, Emily Dickinson, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, and all the other great exemplars of love have taught us. Essentially, we start with the idea that there is that of God in everyone, from which we conclude that it is evil to kill for any reason. The rest of our faith grows from that kernel.

I hope we have the opportunity to experience that of God in DaynaPapaleo some Sunday at 10 at 84 Scio Street. (After Labor Day, make that some Sunday at 11.)

Ken Maher, Wellington Avenue, Rochester


"Chicks With Picks" (August 2) is another example of the good work your paper does for the local music community. However, you have unfortunately helped perpetuate the stereotype of woman guitar players as acoustic folkie singer-songwriters. Writing songs and singing them requires great talent and hard work, and as I've seen some of the women featured in the article perform, I can personally vouch for their great ability. This is a different talent, though, than using the guitar as a primary instrument to, for lack of a better term, really rock.

Women are trained from the start of their musical lives to let themselves be pigeonholed on certain instruments or in certain types of music. There's no reason at all why women can't be awesome guitarists. About half of my guitar students are girls, and all of them, even those as young as seven, have already been playing Metallica, The Ramones, Cream, Green Day and Nirvana, and the more experienced students are becoming fluent in blues and jazz. Just as plenty has been done in sports to dispel the myth that women can't be real athletes, it's important that we show young woman musicians that they can think of themselves as hard-core guitar slingers, and not just folkies. If you really want to showcase women with guitars in their hands, please don't keep them pigeonholed as acoustic singer-songwriters. How about for your next music article, doing one on the women in Rochester who really kick butt on guitar?

Paul Blackburn, Garson Avenue, Rochester


In an election year in which congressional and statewide politics have been taking center stage ("Still a Mess: NY's Leg," August 16), City Newspaper readers should not overlook the Democratic primary race for Rochester City Court Judge. Debra Amadio Crowder is a homegrown lawyer in private practice who focuses her efforts on both criminal and civil matters. She is clearly the more qualified and experienced Democratic candidate for this job.

With more than 13 years of legal expertise in both the private and public sectors, Crowder's accomplishments are well suited for the diverse nature of the caseload that comes before City Court. Her impressive credentials extend well beyond the legal framework. Crowder has an unwavering commitment to social justice and the democratic process. This is illustrated by her dedicating her professional career to representing victims of domestic violence and the unfortunate and to mentoring troubled youth. If Crowder gets elected, we all win.

Ove Overmyer, East Main Street, Rochester(Overmyer is events coordinator for the Crowder campaign committee.)


We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. We don't publish letters that have been sent to other media --- and we don't publish form letters generated by activist groups. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than about once every two months.

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