Sing, Sing, Midnight!

I wanted to introduce you to a wonderful book written by my friend, Emily Gallagher:


click above to purchase

Maya is one of the nearly two million American children with an incarcerated parent, and she has a question for her Daddy. “Who takes care of you?” A simple question with an unexpected answer. Sing, Sing, Midnight! celebrates finding your voice, singing out loud, taking care of one another, and family.

We used this book at Grace Camp this summer- a real grounding moment for kids with someone in their family who is incarcerated. Also a great tool for helping kids understand friends who may have parents in jail or prison. I can’t recommend it enough!

Making A Difference In Montana: Interchange Kickstarter Campaign is Here!


Interchange Kickstarter is now live. Show your support now!

Whether you’re able to financially support Interchange or are still considering, know that our festival moves forward each year, evolving with the changing issues of human rights and equality.

But when you take that extra step with tangible support, you help Interchange set new standards for creativity and continue to share progressive ideas by standing up- and standing proud.

Supporting Interchange shows you care about the important challenges we champion- ending social trauma and creating human equality.
Starting right here.
Right now.
Inner change + Outer change = Interchange


HIV In Prison


  • More than 2 million people are incarcerated in jails and prisons in the United States.
  • People who are incarcerated are at increased risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV.
  • The correctional setting is often the first place incarcerated men and women are diagnosed with HIV and provided treatment.

People who are incarcerated are at increased risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV and other infections. Correctional health, public health, and community-based organizations need to improve HIV prevention and care for incarcerated populations through 1) routine HIV screening and voluntary HIV testing within prisons and jails and 2) other effective prevention strategies, including those that address inmates’ transition back into the community. Correctional institutions can be important partners in preventing and treating HIV to protect and improve inmate and community health.

More here.

Study: Incarceration Increases Risk Of STI’s, HIV Infection

Something nobody ever seems to want to talk about: sex, prison and STD’s.

The study’s objective was to assess the link between incarceration and sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, from a social network perspective.

Data collected from a social network study in Brooklyn (n=343) were measured for associations between incarceration and infection with herpes simplex virus-2, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis or HIV and sex with an infected partner, adjusting for characteristics of respondents and their sex partners.

“Infection with an STI or HIV was associated with incarceration of less than one year (adjusted prevalence ratio=1.33; 95 percent confidence interval=1.01, 1.76) and one year or longer (adjusted PR=1.37; 95 percent CI=1.08, 1.74). Sex in the past three months with an infected partner was associated with sex in the past three months with one partner (adjusted PR=1.42; 95 percent CI=1.12, 1.79) and with two or more partners (adjusted PR=1.85; 95 percent CI=1.43, 2.38) who had ever been incarcerated,” the results found.

There is a need for STI and HIV treatment and prevention for current and former prisoners, concluded the authors. The results provide preliminary evidence to indicate that incarceration may influence HIV and other STIs, “possibly because incarceration increases the risk of sex with infected partners.”

I love it when science follows common sense. Well, at least informed common sense…

Court Orders Prison to Keep ACLU Client Out of Solitary

Raistlen Katka much improved after being returned to general population; Suit over unconstitutional conditions will continue

HELENA, MT — District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has ordered the Montana Department of Corrections to refrain from placing teenage prisoner Raistlen Katka in administrative isolation and from imposing behavior modification plans on him until his release or February 2012 trial.


“The Court does this for a couple reasons. First, it is clear that Plaintiff is doing well under the current specialized treatment plan,” wrote Sherlock in his decision, adding that he has concerns that Raistlen could suffer irreparable harm (up to suicide) if placed in solitary confinement again.


“Since we were able to secure his release from solitary confinement last year and get him mental health treatment, he has done far better than he did under the prison’s ‘behavior management plans.’ He’s earned his GED and is learning a vocational skill,” said ACLU Legal Director Betsy Griffing of Raistlen’s current conditions. “He was prohibited from receiving real educational instruction and vocational training in solitary confinement.”


The ACLU of Montana filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana and the Montana Department of Corrections in 2009 over the illegal, inhumane and degrading treatment Raistlen was subjected to by being placed in solitary confinement when he was a juvenile and when it exacerbated his mental illness. Those conditions violated the Montana Constitution’s right to human dignity, and were particularly objectionable because they were imposed on a minor child with mental illness.


Raistlen was Tasered, pepper-sprayed, deprived of human contact, punished by torturous ‘behavior management plans,’ stripped in view of other inmates and traumatized to the point of attempting multiple times to kill himself.


Raistlen has a history of childhood abuse, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses. His incarceration in the Montana State Prison’s restrictive “Special Housing Unit” began in March 2009 when he was just barely 17 years old. In the ensuing year his condition seriously deteriorated.


The ACLU was finally able to secure Raistlen’s release from solitary confinement, mental health treatment and a return to the general population after several more suicide attempts.


Though the most pressing goal of the ACLU’s litigation – to ensure that Raistlen would be removed from inhumane conditions – has been achieved, the lawsuit will continue.


“This lawsuit is for Raistlen, but it’s also for all the other adolescent and mentally ill prisoners subjected to these harsh, punitive conditions. MSP’s use of solitary confinement and BMP’s violates contemporary correctional practices as well as Montana’s constitutional guarantees,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Andree Larose. “As a society, we must be concerned not only about whether the treatment of inmates is humane, but also about what long-term effects such inhumane treatment has on these prisoners. When we ignore the core humanity of a prisoner, we not only violate the Montana Constitution, we make our community less safe in the long run.”