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SUSU Guiding Principles

See Us, Support Us (SUSU) is a national awareness raising initiative about and an affirming community for children and young adults affected by parental incarceration. SUSU is guided by the following principles which were co-created by those whose parents are involved in the criminal legal system and SUSU Partners.

  • The criminal legal system should prioritize accountability and healing, while averting or minimizing family separation. 

  • Oppression and dehumanization of Black, Indigenous, and people of color is perpetuated by the criminal legal system. Policies and practices must be examined so new approaches rooted in healing and restoration are enacted to achieve just treatment, equitable possibilities, and liberation.

  • Young people's needs should be considered throughout the duration of their parents’ involvement in the criminal legal system, from arrest to reentry.

  • Young people should be free of the stigma and stereotypes that limit their future prospects and well-being. They should have access to affirming, inclusive spaces that create a sense of belonging. 

  • Persistent patterns of oppression, racism, trauma, and poverty may result in the incarceration of family members across generations. We refrain from speaking about “breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration” because this narrative does not acknowledge these persistent patterns and largely places blame on families. 

  • Approach young people with empathy and compassion, not judgment and pity. Recognizing the emotional challenges they may be experiencing due to their parent’s incarceration shows our capacity for understanding and providing support. 

  • Young people must have accessible and cost-free ways to maintain contact with their incarcerated parents. Contact visits, phone calls, packages, letters, email, and video conferencing, can promote young people’s well-being, and support active parenting and successful reentry.

  • Young people must be co-creators in developing programs, policies, and practices that affect them. 

  • Young people thrive and succeed, despite challenges, when provided with support and opportunities.

  • Focus on a child’s strengths and abilities just as much, if not more, than their challenges so they are able to recognize and grow into their own capabilities, talents, and fullest potential.

  • Recognize the uniqueness of each youth's situation and understand the challenges they are facing, which may change over time, so you can tailor support.

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