The Unbelievable Story of the Man Saving the Children of Incarcerated Parents - Featured on PBS

Terrence Stevens is on a mission to save children whose parents are incarcerated. 


He knows too well the stories that these kids represent.  He is the founder and CEO of a Harlem-based nonprofit organization that assists children affected by parental incarceration and impacted by the criminal justice system. 

He will be featured in the final episode of Harvard scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ new six-part documentary, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

Gates says, “This is one of the greatest travesties of justice I have ever seen. Mr. Stevens’ case embodies the many rivers African Americans still must cross.”

The portrait of Stevens also features his work with In Arms Reach, Inc., the community-based organization he founded after his release.  IAR is dedicated to breaking the cycle of inter-generational inequality for low-income children and families of NYC, primarily children impacted by the criminal justice system, and neighborhoods devastated by mass incarceration.  IAR’s ultimate goal is to bring high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics educational opportunities to underserved children through its partnership with City College University of New York, its science and engineering departments, and the Sophie Davis medical school. IAR provides one-on-one mentoring, visitation, youth development and other support services.  Stevens and the IAR program are working to encourage today’s children of incarcerated parents into tomorrow’s scientists, doctors, innovators and teachers.  

I know Terrance very well from his days as an activist who joined me in fighting to reform the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws of New York State. We worked side by side bringing the issue to the forefront generating hundreds of human interest stories used to put a human face on the war on drugs.

Stevens was sentenced to 15-years-to-life for a nonviolent drug offense and served 10 years before getting clemency from former New York Gov. George Pataki in 2001. The remarkable thing about Terrance is that he suffers from muscular dystrophy and is paralyzed and fully reliant on a power wheelchair to move about. His spine is bent, and his breathing is labored and painful. Muscular dystrophy slowly makes its way through his body, shutting down muscle after muscle. 

Terrence Steven’s story personifies the cruelty of the United States’ failed trillion-dollar war on drugs. The much-debated drug statutes enacted beginning in the 1980s call for sentences that are among the toughest in the world. For Terrance, the unjust sentence he received was the equivalent of two prison terms. One was a life sentence by statue, and the other might as well be.

“To incarcerate someone in my condition, who poses absolutely no physical threat to society and is unable even to wipe his own behind, shows the complete and utter failure of the criminal justice system,” Terrence said.

The effects of mass incarceration do not end at the prison walls and it’s heartbreaking that 2.7 million U.S. children have a parent behind bars – including 1 in 9 African-American children. That’s why Terrence’s profound work keeping families connected and breaking the cycle of incarceration is so necessary.  

For more information or to make a donation to In Arms Reach, visit www.inarmsreach.net  or call IAR at 212.650.5894.

#story_page_post_article

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.