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By Daniel J. Simms, Independent Journalist/Author/Activist/Podcast Host.

Millions of American parents are losing their children. Even though there is no allegation of abuse. It is happening across the entire country as an ancillary effect of the plague of mass incarceration. When millions of Americans and I were given prison sentences, we were not aware we would be losing our children, too. Yet that is exactly what happens. In my case, a creep named Daryl Fish insinuated himself in my son's life due to his friendship with my son's Grandmother. My son's Grandmother disliked me solely due to prejudice, hate, and bigotry. She had never met me, and neither did creepy Fish.

Nevertheless, they conspired together to alienate my son from me. I had endeavored vigorously to have a relationship with my son. I saved up my meager prison wages, or funds from other sources, to buy him a Nintendo 3DS, Legos, a laptop, three different cellphones, a drone, and other toys, food, and even pay his and his mother's rent from prison. Additionally, I paid for my son to be driven to various prisons I was at. I never asked for anything in return. I just wanted a relationship with my son. When my son's Mother died, I paid to have an image and medallion framed with a plaque memorializing his Mother. We spent thousands of dollars in attorney fees to get custody of him. Yet his Grandmother won custody. Despite these demonstrations of good faith and love, his Grandmother did everything she could to keep my son away from me. She also manufactured a relationship between my son and Fish. Shortly after that, she died as well. Fish hid her death for eight days. When we were finally notified of the death, my wife at the time and I demanded custody of my son. Fish refused to give custody back to us. Therefore, we called the police in Bothell and Snohomish County, where his house was located. This weirdo kidnapped my son out of the State of Washington into the State of Oregon to evade the police. (See: Simms v. Fish, 2021 Wash. App. LEXIS 1542). He knew if he turned my son over to my ex-wife, we would have a solid custody case. He also knew if he kept my son a little longer, just until he could retain high-priced attorneys to file all the proper custody paperwork, he would have a better custody case.

Fish took his manufactured relationship to the Courts and was able to overrule his biological Father's designated guardian, my son's stepmother, and convince the Court to give him custody of my son. (See: In re Custody of D.R.K., 2020 Wash. App. LEXIS 2838). A stranger of the blood, an interloper, was able to take my child primarily because I was in prison. The stigma and prejudice associated with being a prisoner is prolific and allows the Court and Fish to dehumanize me and justify taking my child. This was when my son was eleven years old. He's eighteen years old now, and I haven't spoken or seen him once. Not one time. Fish spent years poisoning my son's mind and manipulating him to hate me. Sadly, it worked. I have no relationship with my son despite the immeasurable amount of love I have for him.

Such heartbreaking loss and profound pain are not limited to me. There are millions of Americans being separated from their children and families. It is a sad fact that incarcerated parents across this country are losing their children. (See: How Incarcerated Parents Are Losing Their Children Forever. Marshall Project. By Eli Hager and Anna Flagg. December 2, 2018. []). Essentially, they are losing them because of prejudice, stigmatization, and hate. I had designated a competent, capable, safe, and secure guardian to take custody of my son. Yet, it was disregarded. This creep that kidnapped my son and took him across State lines to get an unfair advantage in the custody case ended up getting custody of him. It was unjust and has resulted in complete and total alienation from my only son. The profound pain is beyond words. Knowing that it is likely, if not assured, that I may never have a relationship with him hurts tremendously. Yet there is nothing I can do. The damage inflicted by evil people upon our children, manipulating them into believing incarceration is grounds to hate their parents and to stay away from them forever, those people will face an ultimate judgment from a Higher Power. Until that day, we must endure. We must voice our dissent with such a hate-filled and corrupt system. A system that is everything but "just."

Horrible parent-child separation is not limited by gender. Women are losing their kids forever as well. (Incapacitating Motherhood. 51 U. C. Davis L. Rev. 2191. 2191-98 (2018). By Priscilla A. Ocen). Mothers who may serve a few months, up to some years, are losing their kids despite the fact they could have gotten out and maintained a good relationship with their child. We have degenerated as a society when such separations are the norm and acceptable. It demonstrates the profound dehumanizing nature of mass incarceration. (See: Prisons are Violent And Dehumanizing, in America's Prisons: Opposing Viewpoints. 67 (D. Bender, B. Leon, and B. Szumski 4th ed. 1985). By Steve Lerner). Dehumanization was endemic during the time of the wicked slave trade or the hate-filled Jim Crow segregation period. Today, our emergency civil rights struggle. The one we must confront and overcome. As our Country did with slavery and racial segregation, it is mass incarceration and all the evil ancillary effects that go with it. (See: Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time. 11 (The New Press 2015). By James Kilgore).

Those in power, Judges, Prosecutors, and Politicians, rarely, if ever, take into account the impact their decisions make upon the innocent families and children of the incarcerated. Sure, some may argue that it is the Offender's fault that the harm was inflicted upon their family, and it is their responsibility to mitigate and remedy the damage. Yet the Offender may have had societal or traumatic factors that have influenced their bad decisions (i.e., poverty, abuse, neglect, undue influence, or even intergenerational imprisonment). Virtually no prisoner has a college educational degree. Neither have they supported and enacted the legislation that created the harm. They were not consulted when the Prosecutor determined the sentence or adjudicated by the Judge. Legislators, Judges, and Prosecutors, however, have that power. They are the highly educated in our society. They are the ones fully conscious of the societal and trauma-based causes of crime. They are fully aware of downstream incidents of mass incarceration of innocent families and children. Nevertheless, they choose to ignore it, be willfully blind, or outright disregard it. Clinging stubbornly to the "hard on crime" philosophies despite the immeasurable amounts of data and evidence conclusively proving such ideology is bankrupt. Why should those Judges, Prosecutors, and Legislators escape responsibility for their part in destroying lives? (See: Punishment Beyond the Legal Offender. 3 Ann. Rev. L. and Soc. Sci. 271, 273 (2007))

"The negative effects that individuals experience after being incarcerated are well documented," by contrast "much less is known about the incredible...harms and challenges that families face' in this understudied aspect of mass incarceration." (See: Every Second: The Impact of the Incarceration Crisis on American Families., at 10. []). Practically everything is studied and reviewed in society, yet one of the most neglected subjects is the downstream effects on our precious families. There is an intentional dereliction of duty when it comes to the consequential impacts of mass incarceration. For example, when the data became conclusive that secondhand smoke was carcinogenic and caused cancer, it was a relatively short time afterward that prison administrations across the Country banned cigarettes. The consequential effects of secondhand smoke outweighed the vast profits, the calming psychological effects upon smokers, and all the other reasons to continue the smoking policies were trumped by side effects upon smokers and nonsmokers alike. Likewise, the collateral negative effect upon innocent families, children, and communities, and the direct adverse effects upon prisoners themselves, far outweigh the need to continue the status quo form of criminal justice. We can end the experiment of mass incarceration and introduce a new era of genuine reforms.

The pretexts used by the Courts and opposing parties in custody cases to take children away from incarcerated parents vary. Yet one overriding theme has appeared in many cases, taking words or actions of the child out of context and then using them as a self-serving ground to get custody. This tactic was used against me in my custody case. The natural reluctance of my son, and practically anyone else, to travel long distances to visit scary prisons was used as a reason to grant custody of my son. Who in their right mind wants to sit in a car and drive some hours to arrive at a scary prison? (See: Incarcerated Parents and their Children 1. By Christopher J. Mumola. Tom Hester and Ellen Goldberg eds., 2000. "reporting that 60% of incarcerated parents were held over 100 miles away from their last place of residence"). Most people do it out of necessity to see and socialize with their loved ones. But to use that "natural reluctance" of a child to get custody is entirely out of context. If I were in a comfortably decorated room in a nondescript building close to my son's home, he would most assuredly want to spend more time with me. Therefore, using that pretext is wholly inappropriate. Another is using the child's outbursts. Or "cherry-picking" vague or ambiguous statements like "he gets angry" or "gets mad." These are transparent attempts at misdirection or weasel words, and they are repeatedly used to take children away from incarcerated parents. Similar to visits while in foster care, children are bound to be emotional or angry over their circumstances yet are unable to voice their feelings adequately. "It is common for children to 'act out' after phone or in-person visitation with parents. Frequently, this is just because family separation is emotionally distressing, and not because the visitation is bad for the child." "When children react adversely to brief encounters with their estranged parents, caseworkers often respond by decreasing visitation instead of giving families more time to deal with the hardships of foster care." (See: Understanding and Supporting Parent-Child Relationships During Foster Care Visits: Attachment Theory and Research. 48 Soc. Work 195, 198 (2003). By Wendy L. Haight et al.). How can you argue against getting angry or mad? First of all, it is incredibly vague and ambiguous. Everyone in the entire world, in all of human history, has gotten "angry" or gotten "mad." Cherry-picking weasel words such as these that are incredibly vague and ambiguous to justify providing custody to an interloper are incomprehensible. Yet, it happened in my custody case. And it is happening in many thousands of custody cases across the Country. It is a sad fact.

There is insurmountable evidence that mass incarceration exacerbates inequities and increases unfair outcomes. Not solely for the Offenders but increasingly the innocent families, children, and communities are suffering right along with them. The burden is not saddled upon those of means and power but predominantly on those impoverished and powerless. (Who Pays: The True Cost of Incarceration on Families. 30 (2015). By Seneta deVuono-Powell et al.. []). This phenomenon is not likely to get better any time soon. With those in power inclined to dispense long sentences and rebuke reforms, innocent families, children, and communities suffer greatly. Simple, humane reform measures, such as ending prisoner slavery, reducing excessive sentences, mandating robust treatment and career training, and implementing extreme socialization programs, would practically end or reduce the inequities and ensure better outcomes. But those reforms are too logical for the elite class bent on revenge and profits above restoration and rehabilitation. For instance, ever since George Floyd's murder, police and prison reform have been at the forefront of the National conversation. Yet despite the countless bills being introduced in the States' legislatures regarding reform, the only ones seemingly passing are wholly inadequate or misguided. Therefore, it is increasingly apparent politicians may speak sugary words that constituents want to hear. Still, when it comes time to vote, they lack adequate votes or allow it to die in some subcommittee. They can not fathom the pain and depression it inflicts upon the incarcerated or their families when a bill increasing good time or a bill retroactively requiring weapon enhancements to run concurrently is introduced, and then months later, they die. It is cruel. Virtually every American knows mass incarceration has failed in practically every category. (See: Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform. 18 (2017). By John F. Pfaff. "Contemplating the 'staggering economic, social, political, and racial costs of mass incarceration"). Yet politicians, Judges, and Prosecutors cling to mass incarceration like a drowning man clings to floating debris. They trumpet notions of public safety, justice, or a victim's retribution. (See: Beyond the Prison Bubble. 268 Nat'l Inst. Just. J. 26, 27 (2011). By Joan Petersilia. "[Mass incarceration's positive] effects have been considerably smaller than proponents claim and....we are well past the point of diminishing returns"). Justice to them is different to vast amounts of Americans. Victim's retribution is currently a pipedream premised on the abstract idea that the offender is enduring horrible conditions in prison. It would be much more retributive if the victims were made whole financially. If prisoner slavery ended, that could happen. (See: The Thirteenth Amendment: Modern Slavery, Capitalism, and Mass Incarceration. 104 Cornell L. Rev. 899, 935-41 (2019). By Michelle Goodwin). Likewise, if extreme socialization occurred, then victims could visit prisons and observe the offender and possibly participate in programs such as restorative justice. These are evidence-based and data-driven reforms that will usher in a new era of saving and redeeming troubled Americans rather than destroying them.

You can continue to educate yourself on the injustices and inequities inflicted upon you by simply subscribing to our free podcast and blog. Every new subscriber will receive a free digital copy of one of my books: "DEFUND D.O.C.: TURNING ALL PRISONS INTO TREATMENT AND CAREER CENTERS," or, "THE ART OF LIVING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS IN LIFE AND BUSINESS, I LEARNED IN PRISON."

Become a Reality TV Star! We are excited to invite you to be a part of history through a revolutionary new reality show: LOVE AND PRISON ACTIVISM. The reality show seeks to inspire prison reform by humanizing prisoners and those who love them. Showcasing their struggles and highlighting activism will assuredly change the narrative and allow space for true reform to occur. You do not need prior experience in mass incarceration to be a part of the show. All you need is a love for the American people. Therefore, everyone is invited to audition. Moreover, due to the immense need for people to attend rallies and protests in their States, literally everyone can appear and be featured in the show. So, do not miss your opportunity to participate in this groundbreaking effort. We will launch it on July 4th to coincide with our Country's previous fight for independence and freedom. This new fight we are embarking on is critical to realign U.S. policy with the people's demands. Foremost is ending prisoner slavery, turning all prisons into treatment and career centers, and reducing all non-homicide offenses down to a maximum of eight to ten years. You can receive all updates and news regarding the pending social justice reality show by subscribing to the podcast and blog.

To support this overdue social justice mission, you can also purchase items from our branded collections. Currently, we have sweatshirts, tee-shirts, and more on our website, Cadmus Publishing (coming soon), Etsy, and our tiktok store. All profits go towards advancing your interests and the interests of the American people. Remember, supporting this cause is merely an insurance policy. Because you, or your descendants, have a fifty percent chance of going to prison within the next fifty years based on the historical growth of mass incarceration since the 1970s.

You can also purchase the special limited-time offer "Supporters Book Bundle" of all three of my digital books: "HOPELESS IN SEATTLE: A FOSTERKID'S MANIFESTO," "DEFUND D.O.C.," and "THE ART OF LIVING." All for the price of one book: $14.99. If you buy all three printed versions on Amazon or other booksellers, it would cost you double that amount. Plus, it will help us further the social justice campaign.

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