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Organization advocating for kids with incarcerated parents pushes for legislation to fill gap between parent and child

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BATON ROUGE - Approximately 94,000 children in Louisiana are impacted by parental incarceration. Daughters Beyond Incarceration is an organization that advocates for children with imprisoned parents. 

DBI's founder, Dominique Johnson, started the organization in 2018 with personal motivation. 

"My father is in his 42nd year of a life sentence at Angola State Penitentiary," Johnson said. "My dad and I stopped talking in the year 2000, and once we reconnected, we realized there's a missing gap between incarcerated parents and their children. We developed DBI so [they] can build a relationship, and six years later, we have grown into something way more powerful than I originally imagined it being."

The group has helped children across the state address emotions surrounding their incarcerated parent. Kash'Shae Cook's father has been in prison since she was a toddler. 

"Before the program, I wasn't event vocal about my dad being incarcerated. I didn't even talk about it," Cooks, 15, said. "I have more of a voice now."

DBI has taken its fight to the the state lawmakers. Wednesday morning, 150 children of the DBI program made their way to the Capitol to advocate for two proposed pieces of legislation: HCR 22 and HCR 24.

"This year we are focused on 'Parenting from Prison.' The PfP program works to support the bills that allow incarcerated parents to attend their children's graduation, award ceremony, anything like that, they can attend them virtually (HCR 24). And the last bill that we're working on passing (HCR 22) is a resolution that changes the way that visitation rooms are situated so that it is more supportive children with different learning exceptionalities and it also educates the correctional officers," says Johnson.

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