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Stay in Faith, A better life is on the horizon

Social Justice Blog

Social Justice Blog

Collateral Damage Part 2: Quilty by Association

Posted on July 18, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Collateral Damage: Guilty by association


Kennedy and Chance (2011) define, “collateral damage is a phrase used to refer to the civilian casualties that inadvertently result from military operations, (p.1)”. The term is also used to refer to the inadvertent damage as a result of mass incarceration which is a result of the war on crime legislation. In military situations causalities to civilians, particularly, women and children are protested by the public. Unfortunately, collateral damage goes unrecognized or unacknowledged by the majority of society when it is associated with incarceration policies. The current carceral system through its unjust sentencing policies not only aggressively multiplies the number of lower income persons (Kennedy and Chance, 2011) but concurrently causes unwarranted stigma and emotional stress to women and children. Gust (2012) found that emotional stress is often felt by the whole family of an incarcerated person due to devious treatment by neighbors, landlords [and employers]. Some landlords refuse to renew lease; some neighbors refuse to interact with you; and [some employers seek reasons to fire you]. Simmons (2011) described this type of occurrences as moral collateral damage. Mothers who are unable to supply funds for basic necessities through Walkenhorst gift packages or payment via J-Pay are financially and emotionally stressed.


In my last blog, I wrote briefly about the collateral damage due to the economic burden of mothers of incarcerated children. In this blog, I highlight only one particular policy that extends stigma and stress. The particular necessity discussed here includes providing stamps, envelopes and paper. The prison will provide stationery, envelopes and a stamp for one letter per month. Stationery for supplied to prisoners are boldly stamped with the words INDIGENT and (Name) STATE PRISON. Otherwise, stationery purchased with the prisoner’s personal funds or supplied by outside sources are discreetly stamped with the name of the institution on the front and/or back of the envelope.


In most neighborhoods, postal personnel often deliver letters to the wrong address. You might discern negative communication has occurred when you observe signs of rejection from the postal personnel and/or neighbors. Your neighbors rush inside and close the door whenever you go outside; children are called into the house if you are gardening; no one speaks to you and invitations to neighborhood parties cease. Gust (2012) explained that families become outcast; lose social capital; acquire inappropriate feelings of guilt; and suffer from depression. Attitudes of the community change from friendliness to hostility. While social stigma is insulting and depressing, the decision of mothers to disconnect from ones offspring in order to be accepted by society is immoral. Disconnection prevents the opportunity of redemption, reformation and recovery.



Gust, L. V. (2012). Can policy reduce the collateral damage caused by the criminal justice system? Strengthening social capital in families and communities. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(2), 174-180. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01156.x

Kennedy, J. E. and Chance, M. (2011). Collateral Damage: How Mass Incarceration Increases Poverty and Crime in North Carolina’s Poorest African-American Communities. Trial Briefs. August 2011;15-16


Simmons, M. (2011). Voices on the Outside: Mass Incarceration and the Women Left Behind. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(4), 71-83.


Correction on June 18th blog: It was noted that J-Pay electronic fund transfers may be considered misappropriation. The system now allows the purchaser to indicate whether funds should be applied to prisoner’s restitution or prisoner’s spending fund.

All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant




Categories: Reflection