Things That Matter

Here’s How You Can Support Your Incarcerated Family Members If You Don’t Know How

Talking about our primos in prison is taboo. If you ever had a family member in prison, you may avoid talking about it outside your family circle. The incarcerated family member then becomes a ghost, a cautionary tale, or a source of shame. We forget how they arrived in this situation and hesitate to offer support. Looking closely at issues that contribute to mass incarceration in this country can offer insights into the matter. It’s time we take a new approach to incarcerated family, and offer help in ways the correctional system refuses. It’s time to humanize our imprisoned primos and primas, showing love and empathy that we would want to see if we were behind bars.

Considering the U.S. census shows Hispanics make up 18.3 percent of the population, it is bewildering how they come to make up 32 percent of the Federal inmate population.

However, looking at social issues that plague the Latinx community, it is no surprise that low levels of education, poverty, and structural discrimination lead to incarceration. With the latest instances of aggression toward the Latinx community at the presidential level, it will be no surprise if acts of discrimination and targeting of Latinos continues to rise.

What other factors contribute to the incarceration of Latinos?

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The Pew Research Center reports that in 1991, 60 percent of Latinos were sentenced in federal court for drug-related offenses, and 20 percent for immigration crimes. Yet, these figures changed dramatically, with 48 percent of sentences for immigration crimes, and 37 percent of sentences for drug-related crimes in 2007.

The incarceration of Latinos is feeding into the conversation around the school to prison pipeline.

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What is the prison experience really like? Netflix series like Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” and “Orange is the New Black” help pull back the curtain on the harsh realities of prison life. More than just TV shows, these depictions exposed micro and macro ways the U.S., home to the largest prison population in the world, focuses not on prisoner rehabilitation, but recidivism instead.

When we think about our family members in prison, we need to remember that they could be facing sexual violence, lack of access to mental health services, solitary confinement, and denial of their reproductive rights.

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It may be the case that an incarcerated family member’s situation is shrouded in mystery and whispers, but this need not be the case. It is not only time to confront these matters at the family level, but to address them at the social level as well. The first step may begin with actually accepting that inmate call. Ask what your family member is going through and share that with the family if he or she permits. You may feel a sense of hopelessness, but there is so much you can do to help not only your own family members but the greater incarcerated Latino community too.

Moving beyond thoughts and prayers—although they’re good too—here are substantive ways you can help incarcerated family members.

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  • Visit if you can. Even if it is only a few times a year, the impact of human contact cannot be overstated. Ensure you are on the approved visitor’s list before you go. Bring identification and arrive early. Be a good listener and most importantly, show that family love.
  • The experience of visiting prison can be inconvenient or even traumatic, so if you feel you cannot commit this fully then try a virtual visit. Apps like JPay offer inmate services like email, video visitation, and secure payment transfers. Send pictures of the family or a video of a holiday gathering.
  • If apps prove to be intimidating, try sending a letter. Have picture printed out—old school style—and include them in your letters. Families are full of births, marriages, and so many other beautiful life events. Share them with your primos and primas who can’t be there with you. If you feel like you simply don’t want to communicate with your incarcerated family member, but you still want to contribute to the cause in some way, join a prison pen pal organization and bring a sense of human connection to others.
  • Another way to help the family behind bars is to send books. The organization, NYC books through bars, understands how much books can help with the rehabilitation and the education process in prison.
  • With vulnerable peoples such as the trans community,  women in prison, those with mental health needs, simply raising awareness on their behalf can be a radical act of kindness.
  • Another act of solidarity with your incarcerated family member is to donate to the ACLU Prisons Project. “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, we work to ensure that conditions of confinement are consistent with health, safety, and human dignity and that prisoners retain all rights of free persons that are not inconsistent with incarceration.”

If you have a family member in prison, it is important to their own recovery and reformation to know they have people who love and support them.

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With an array of opportunities to help our family members in prison, it is important to note that reintroduction to society can pose a major challenge for former inmates. These are areas where you can help too. Our imprisoned family members may have been victims of the system, they may have survived the only way they know how, or maybe they just made a mistake. Whatever the circumstance, the key is to remember they are human, and most importantly, they are familia. So ask yourself, for their sake and the sake of our community, what can you do to help?

READ: Cyntoia Brown Was Finally Released From Prison After 15 Years– This Is What Resistance Looks Like

Mormon Boy Who Survived Cartel Shooting Reveals His Mom’s Last Words

Things That Matter

Mormon Boy Who Survived Cartel Shooting Reveals His Mom’s Last Words

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The teenage boy who hiked 14 miles to save his wounded family has revealed painful details from the Mexican cartel shooting that killed nine members of his fundamentalist Mormon family, including his mother and two younger brothers. During an interview with Good Morning America, 13-year-old Devin Langford recalled the compounded trauma of his family’s car being peppered by bullets, killing his mother and siblings, and the frantic 14-mile hike back to his home. Devin horrifically describes the terrifying moment that his mom, Dawna, realized their car couldn’t whisk them to safety. “Get down. Right now,” were Dawna’s last words to her children, hoping that her advice would save them. Her words were enough to save young Devin, who survived without physical injury and was able to hike 14 miles to retrieve help for his injured siblings.

“To be honest with you,” his father, David Langford, told through tears, “my boy’s a hero simply because he gave his life for his brothers and sisters.”

“She was trying to pray to the Lord, and trying to get the car to start to get us out of there,” Devin Langford told Good Morning America.

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He thinks that the cartel had deliberately shot at the engine so that the cars would be rendered useless in an escape attempt. “Afterwards they got us out of the car, and they just got us on the floor, and they drove off,” he said, further corroborating theories that the cartel thought their SUVs belonged to that of a rival gang. Once the gunmen realized they had shot and killed three mothers and six of their children, they fled, leaving the survivors helpless.

Devin revealed that, at first, he and all his siblings had tried to walk back to the family home together. “We walked a little while until we couldn’t carry [Baby Brixton] no more,” he told ABC. Nine-month-old Brixton suffered a bullet wound on his chest and was bleeding badly. “So, we put him behind a bush,” Devin explained to ABC. “I wasn’t hit or nothing, so I started walking because every one of them were bleeding so bad, so I was trying to get in a rush to get there.”

Devin thought his family’s murderers were following him those fateful 14 miles.

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Instead of grieving or processing the violent murders of his family, or his near-death experience, he went into survival mode and left his injured siblings and the bloodied bodies of his family behind. During the six hours it takes to hike 14 miles, Devin was left with only his thoughts. Among the need to navigate without a map or compass, he was weighed down with the fear that the cartel members who let him live were in fact following him, or training a target on his back to shoot him dead in his tracks. The whole time he was worried “that there wasn’t anybody else out there trying to shoot me or follow me” or, of course, he was thinking about his mom and two brothers who died moments before.

“Every one of my children that survived are living miracles,” David told ABC.

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“How many bullet holes were fired into that vehicle… at that horrific scene and how many children were involved. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. It’s beyond amazing that they survived,” Devin’s father David Langford told the outlet. The Langfords moved to northern Mexico in the 1950s, when polygamy was banned in the United States. Now, David and his plural wife, Margaret, have moved their family back to Arizona. “Not only have I lost a wife and two children but having to move the rest of my family with really no place to go…,” David grieved the loss of an entire way of life. 

David’s sister, Leah Langford-Stadden, told the Daily News, “They’re scared for their lives. They’re leaving everything behind. It’s an exodus.” As the Langfords packed their things and began the final drive out from their home, a caravan of 100 family members joined them to send them off in solidarity. Many of them may leave as well. “It’s horrible. It’s a paradise lost, for sure. It’s heartbreaking,” Langford-Stadden said of a community shattered.

“I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in justice and forgiveness doesn’t rob justice,” David told ABC.

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The Langfords left hundreds of acres of pecan orchards behind after burying Dawna, 43, Trevor Harvey, 11, and Rogan Jay, 3. The FBI is now participating in Mexico’s investigation of the attack.

READ: Mexican Authorities Think The Mormon Family Was Murdered Because A Drug Lord Thought They Were A Rival Gang

Lori Loughlin And Husband, Target Fashion Designer Mossimo Giannulli Plead Not Guilty To New Charges, Now Face 50 Years In Prison

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Lori Loughlin And Husband, Target Fashion Designer Mossimo Giannulli Plead Not Guilty To New Charges, Now Face 50 Years In Prison

The college admission scandal is not letting up and is actually intensifying for actress Lori Loughlin. On September 13, actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for participating in the college admission scam but was released two days early. In total, 51 people were indicted for giving money to Key Worldwide Foundation — a fake organization  — in order for their children to attend affluent universities. Their involvement in the nationwide college admission scandal resulted in millions of donations. It seems that the more money you donated, the heftier the sentence appears to be. In Huffman’s case, she donated $15,000; however, she, unlike the other parents, pleaded guilty. One couple is not giving in, however, and it looks like they might have to pay a heftier price because of it. 

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Target fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to another charge in the college admission scandal and now face a combined 50 years in prison.

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The couple has already been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Last month, they were charged with federal programs bribery, and they pleaded not guilty. 

CNN reports “the new charge accuses Loughlin and Giannulli of bribing University of Southern California employees to get their daughters admitted. USC coaches and athletics officials allegedly designated the daughters as recruited athletes, easing their admission regardless of their athletic ability, prosecutors said.”

While Loughlin and her family seem to be putting on a brave face, sources say it’s actually quite a mess.

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According to People magazine, things in the Loughlin-Giannulli household does not appear to be in cozy conditions, which is a big distinction from what they purport it to be. Their new charges from last month just made things worse. 

“The entire family is in chaos right now,” a source close to Loughlin told People magazine. “They knew this was a possibility, but they thought perhaps it was just a bargaining tool from the prosecution. Now that the charges are official, they are realizing that there is no way to avoid a moderately long prison sentence unless they are found not guilty in a trial.”

One of the reasons, Loughlin and her family have gotten more scrutiny and criticism is due to their lack of remorse, radiant appearance in court, and her daughter’s flightiness on Instagram.

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During her first court appearance, Loughlin walked into the courtroom but not before taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. Her daughters — Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade — seem to be going on with life as usual according to social media. Olivia Jade has deleted some fickle pictures on social media after her mother was charged, including flipping off the camera. Loughlin “donated” $500,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation in order for her daughters to get into the University of Southern California (USC).

The ring leader of Key Worldwide Foundation, Rick Singer, has already pleaded not guilty for his crimes and is facing up to 65 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million.

Earlier this year, Singer pleaded guilty to “charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice,” ABC News reports. He is scheduled to be sentenced until next spring. 

People on social media are quite livid that privilege white people are getting better treatment from the justice system while poverty-stricken parents pay a bigger price for lesser crimes.

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In September, another school scandal went viral but this time it was because a homeless mom got a 5-year sentence for using someone else’s address so their child could go to a better school. People on social media made a point to show their huge discrepancy between that case and Huffman’s 14-day sentence. 

To make matters even worse, there’s already a movie in the works based on the college admission scandal. 

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According to a statement by A+E executives, the movie, as of now, titled “College Admissions Scandal,” “will follow two wealthy mothers who share an obsession with getting their teenagers into the best possible college. When charismatic college admissions consultant Rick Singer offers a side door into the prestigious institutions of their dreams, they willingly partake with visions of coveted acceptance letters in their heads.” We can totally see Huffman and Loughlin jumping at the chance to play those roles. 

READ: We Haven’t Fully Recovered From The Frustration And Anger With The Aunt Becky College Scandal But Lifetime Is Already Working On A Movie