Client and Family Assistance Program

The Client and Family Assistance Project focuses on reducing the hardships that families of prisoners face. The project also works to reduce unnecessary physical suffering and increase opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption. Incarceration and the threat of execution take a huge toll on the families of condemned inmates.

The PJI Client, their Family, and the Community

PJI clients frequently come from families without resources to maintain contact with loved ones. The cost of having a family member in prison is extremely high, both financially and emotionally.

  1. Keeping in Touch
    • Prisoners are only allowed to make collect calls. These collect calls home are immensely expensive, and some families simply cannot afford phone calls with their loved ones.

    • The Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola for the home country of slaves who worked the land when it was a plantation, is a three-hour drive from New Orleans and many miles away from most major cities in Louisiana. Our clients’ families often do not have the ability to make the trip to Angola. Many prisoners have gone years without seeing any family members or loved ones.

  2. Hope and the Pursuit of Innocence
    • Without basic human interaction, all people deteriorate, physically and emotionally. Prisoners who are fighting wrongful convictions often lose hope without the support of their loved ones.
    • Visits improve the behavior of prisoners.

  3. Family and Community
    • A lack of meaningful connection between prisoners and their loved ones can also traumatize children of prisoners and their families. The emotional trauma that accompanies having a family member imprisoned can lead to further strife and violence in the community.

  4. Basic Human Necessities
    • The Louisiana prison system often does not take into account the basic fundamental needs of its prisoners. Some prisoners face intense isolation, unnecessary physical suffering, and unattended medical needs.

How the Client and Family Assistance Project Helps

  1. Keeping Families Communicating:
    • PJI works to help families keep in touch with their incarcerated loved ones, by defraying costs of collect calls and aiding families in letter-writing.
    • PJI provides transportation for biannual family visits to Angola.

  2. Creating Healthy Minds and Healthy Communities
    • We help families maintain their connections. This work reduces prison violence, boosts the morale of condemned prisoners, and alleviates the void created by a missing family member.
    • PJI also partners with local community organizations to counsel families of prisoners, supporting them in improving coping strategies and reducing grief. Creating a safe place for families reduces acting-out in our communities and helps the families of those incarcerated live more positive, fulfilled lives.

  3. Providing the Basics
    • People have a right to the basic necessities of life. PJI helps prisoners receive medical care when the prison system will not care for them. The project also provides simple necessities, such as reading glasses and educational materials.

The Client and Family Assistance Project is largely supported through ongoing, small-scale grassroots fundraising activities and individual donations. Our project coordinator position is staffed through a low-cost partnership with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps.