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Daughters Beyond Incarceration: Empowering Louisiana's Youth and Advocating for Change

BATON ROUGE - Approximately 94,000 children across Louisiana bear the weight of parental incarceration, shedding light on the pressing need for advocacy and support. Daughters Beyond Incarceration (DBI), an organization dedicated to championing the cause of children with imprisoned parents, stands at the forefront of this crucial mission.

Founded in 2018 by Dominique Johnson, DBI is deeply rooted in personal experience and a drive for change. Johnson's father, serving his 42nd year of a life sentence at Angola State Penitentiary, catalyzed her tireless efforts.

"My father is in his 42nd year of a life sentence at Angola State Penitentiary," shared Johnson. "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 impact of DBI is tangible, with countless children across the state finding solace and support through the organization. Kash'Shae Cook, whose father has been incarcerated since her toddler years, attests to the transformative power of DBI.

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

Beyond providing emotional support, DBI is actively engaged in legislative advocacy, empowering children to be agents of change. Recently, 150 children from the DBI program descended upon the Capitol to champion two crucial 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, or 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 of children with different learning exceptionalities and it also educates the correctional officers," explained Johnson, underscoring the organization's commitment to holistic reform.

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