Speak out against the violence that has plagued our nation

Heart to Heart with Shirley & Maria 

Shirley Wilson

Maria Palmer

Welcome to Heart to Heart:

The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation on the planet.  It is understood that many believe that it is great to be number one in many things, but as American citizens, this is something that none should be proud of.  In the last 25 years, America’s prison population has quadrupled.  Now incarcerated persons, especially females with nonviolent petty crimes, are the largest growing population in our nation.

So who does this affect?  It affects all of us, not just those behind the bars.  It affects our tax dollars, our communities and most importantly our children.  For the past 6 years, Maria Palmer has been intricately involved with Get On The Bus, an organization that brings children to see their incarcerated parents once a year for Mother’s/Father’s Day.  Whenever the staff of Get On The Bus would go out to different communities to talk about the program, many people were visibly moved.  One comment that readily stood out was that people never thought about what happened to the children when their parents went to prison.  The children are the voiceless and faceless victims of crime and it is time to start talking about them.

This is what Heart to Heart aims to do.  Shirley and Maria will be bringing the good news, people and programs that are impacting children who have a parent in prison.  Once a month the show will be shedding light onto a topic that many others won’t touch. America must be reminded that children are the future.  Research also shows that children with incarcerated parents who have a relationship with that parent are better socially and emotionally adjusted and they are less likely to repeat the patterns of inter-generational incarceration.  Please join Shirley & Maria one Sunday a month to talk about these issues.  Your feedback and comments are welcomed.

This Sunday July 10th, 2011

Maria and Shirley will bring to the show 3 renown psychologists who specialize in the fields that revolve around children who face horrors such as incarcerated parents, murder, mayhem and the like.  The talk will be  more about the macro issues behind the needs of children with incarcerated parents.  We all here at the The Scales of Justice are excited for the conversation  with the three experts who will answer questions similar to these two:

(1). How and why trauma has an effect on us and how this effect carries on throughout our lives; different types of trauma; how to resolve this trauma

(2). What about the TRAUMA A CHILD WITH AN INCARCERATED PARENT FACES? What are some specific types; how it manifests in different age groups; how it can be recognized; how it is treated; what caregivers/incarcerated parents/other individuals involved in the children’s lives (i.e. teachers, babysitters, priests, rabbis, etc.) to help minimize the trauma?

Stay Tuned for a great show and meet the experts below. May God continue to Bless the efforts of those fighting for change…

Phyllis Cohen, Ph.D

Dr. Phyllis Cohen  is a psychoanalyst and a psychologist working with. children, adolescents and couples. She teaches at several psychoanalytic institutes and at New York University. She is the Founder and currently Co-Executive Director of the New York Institute for Psychotherapy Training in Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence (NYIPT), where she also teaches and supervises. Dr. Cohen is the Co-Director of the World Trade Center Project, working with women who were pregnant on 9/11/01 and lost their husbands, and their children. She is on the Executive Committee of the Project in Family Systems Theory and Psychoanalysis at NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. She heads a committee on the interface of child and family therapy in Section VIII, Psychoanalysis and Family Therapy, Division 39, American Psychological Association. She has published papers on infant, child, adolescent and family therapy.

Dr. William Salton

Dr. William Salton is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of New York. He is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Yeshiva University, where he runs the training clinic and teaches classes on Psychopathology and Illness, Working with the Parents of Children in Psychotherapy, and the Treatment of Young Adults. He is also a faculty member and supervisor at the New York Institute for Psychotherapy Training in Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence; and the Metropolitan Institute for Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Dr. Salton maintains private practices in New York City and Westchester County.


Sunday Show on June 12th, 2011

The Show today is a discussion of  issues  children with incarcerated parents face.  We will focus the show on childhood trauma and talk about some issues specific to these kids (i.e. loss of their parent, stigma/shame, etc.)  The staff of Providence House will give some insight on how to recognize them in a child and what some basic things the public can do.  Shirley and Maria will feature the great work that Providence House is doing. We at the Scales of Justice feel it important to connect our listeners to fantastic people and resources.

Sister Pat Mahoney

Sister Pat is Associate Executive Director/Programs – Providence House Inc. 

She oversees all programmatic operations to include managing and supervising program director level staff, monitoring QA programs and related activities, and oversees agency outcome measurement system to assure for quality of program service delivery.

Sister Pat Mahoney is a Sister of  St. Joseph, a member of the community that founded Providence House 32 years ago.  Sister Pat has lived at Providence House with our women on parole for the last 20 years.

Evangeline Snell

Evangeline Snell is a career mom and a brave single mother of 3. She has been in the field of Human Services for over 20 years and shares a passion for helping individuals from specialized populations rebuild their lives. After attending Metropolitan School for Human Services, Ms. Snell began her journey working with at risk youth, individuals affected by HIV/AIDS, women coming home from prison, and women at risk for losing parental rights. Ms. Snell has also done COBRA case management and has worked with community organizations affiliated with the Administration for Children’s Services. For the past 6 years, Ms. Snell has worked for a private organization called Providence House, which is a program that assists women in the transition from prisons to the community. Within the next two years, Ms. Snell intends to continue her education and ultimately has a goal of receiving her Master’s Degree in Human Services.

Kesha Robinson

Kesha Robinson, 39 years old, is currently living in the Coney Island Providence
House. Convicted of Grand Larceny in December 2007, Kesha served 4 years of a 2-6
year sentence at Taconic Correctional Facility.  While incarcerated Kesha
participated in a variety of programs: ASAT (Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Treatment), Parenting Classes, General Business Course, Legal Research with Law
Students from NYU and she worked as the Storehouse Clerk. On December 7, 2010, she
was released on parole and started her journey with Providence House.

PH IV Group Photo

Communal Meal PH V Photo

Simone & Her Precious Moses

Tiffany and Devin at PH Playground

What was on the Sunday May 8th, 2011 Show?

This Sunday, May 8th, Mother’s Day; Shirley & Maria will be discussing the amazing things going on in service to incarcerated mothers and their precious children. One of the programs is The Chowchilla Family Express! They provide FREE TRANSPORTATION for the families and loved ones of the women incarcerated at the two prisons in Chowchilla, California to come visit.

Each weekend one of their busses leaves from a different major city in California to take people to Valley State Prison for Women and the Central California Women’s Facility. See the schedule .

This program is fully funded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation through the Office of Female Offender Programs and Services, and administered in partnership with the Center for Restorative Justice Works to promote family reunification.

Meet mothers, meet administration, meet those who care about the plight of children left in the world without their parents due to incarceration. See what can be done to effect change… You will absolutely be moved at the core of your soul. We look forward to your joining us on Heart to Heart with Shirley Wilson and Maria C. Palmer and the amazing people who will be stopping by the show to chat. Meet them in brevity now…

Rahel Lee-Yoo

Rahel Lee-Yoo first heard about restorative justice in 2004 while attending grad school at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC where she earned her M.Div. As a part of the curriculum, she was required to spend two weeks immersed in a culture unfamiliar to her. She chose to spend two weeks at Carswell Medical Center in Ft. Worth, TX which is a medical facility and federal institution for incarcerated women requiring minimum to maximum security. As she heard the stories of the women there and how the criminal justice system affected their families, particularly their children, Rahel silently vowed to return to help them one day. Today, Rahel is at the Center for Restorative Justice Works where she currently serves as the Director for Chowchilla Family Express (CFE) whose mission is to, “Reunite families with their loved ones in prison.” CFE provides free bus transportation for families all over California to visit their loved ones in the two women’s prisons in Chowchilla, CA: Valley State Prison for Women and Central California Facility for Women. To find out more about CFE, please visit: www.familyexpress.us

Jennifer Doyle

Jennifer Doyle joined the Get On The Bus staff in August 2009 as Maria Palmer’s assistant. She is an East Coast native who grew up in New Jersey before moving to Boston to attend Emerson College. She graduated from Emerson College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Communication. Jennifer’s prior experience includes interning and working at organizations such as the Museum of Science and Zoo New England in Boston. As an individual who thrives in the sunshine and has a passion for helping children, the transition to California and GOTB was a natural fit.

This is her second year of events at Get On The Bus and she has assisted in uniting numerous children with their incarcerated parents during this time. She is looking forward to another great year of events, and is especially excited for the dads and moms who are meeting their child/children for the first time. Jennifer will be continuing with Get On The Bus for a third year and is looking forward to growing with the agency, and spreading awareness about the important work that Get On The Bus does.

What was on the Sunday April 10th, 2011 Show?

Last Sunday we had on the show Mr. Fanya Baruti who works as an organizer with AOUON, which is an acronym for All Of Us Or None. This week we have one of the women who was formerly incarcerated and now works for this agency. We are excited to have with us Gi Gi Breland. Read Gi Gi’s Bio below:

Gi Gi Breland

Gigi was a battered woman. She was physically abused and beaten by her husband in the late ’70’s only to leave him and get an offer to move in with a “friend” who later began to sexually abuse and rape her against her will. While living with her roommate she also entered into a romantic relationship that was just as abusive as the relationship with her first husband. She was even hospitalized a few times because of all the abuse. One night after receiving a powerful beating from her boyfriend, she came back to her apartment with all the fresh wounds on her body. She was then attacked by her roommate and she pleaded with him to stop and he didn’t so she acted out of self defense and shot him.
This sounds like a scene right from a Lifetime movie special right? The next scene should be that Gigi was eradicated from all the violence, was removed and put into a safe haven, and she meets a man that treats her right and lives happily ever after. However, Gigi’s ending…a 15 year to life prison sentence for second degree murder and one year enhancement because the crime involved a gun. She was advised to take this plea bargain being told by her lawyer that she would most likely be out after 10 years. She had no prior arrests, no record of any crimes, or violence and in fact, she had never even fired a gun until the day she killed her abuser point blank. (Remember, this was in 1980 when there were no self defense laws in place. The Battered Woman Syndrome Law came into place in 1992 as a result of the Nicole Brown Simpson case. Every woman prior to that was convicted of murder…

If you’d like to read more on Gi Gi, please go to the  Get on The Bus Blog at: http://runningtogetonthebus.blogspot.com/2010/01/day-of-celebration.html

What’s on the Sunday March 13th, 2011 Show?

On Heart to Heart this Sunday will be three women who together uncovers the laws, policies and practices that women face when they are stuck in a difficult circumstance of being in an abusive relationship and having questionable immigration status.  Please join Shirley and Maria as we explore with our guests the challenges these women are confronted with as they try to leave their abusers, the difficulties of navigating the legal, criminal justice, and immigration systems and the impact this has on the family unit, especially the children.  This Sunday’s Scales of Justice Show uncovers the laws, policies and practices that women face when they are stuck in a difficult circumstance of being in an abusive relationship and having questionable immigration status.  Please join Shirley and Maria as we explore with our guests the challenges these women are confronted with as they try to leave their abusers, the difficulties of navigating the legal, criminal justice, and immigration systems and the impact this has on the family unit, especially the children.

This show will be packed with expert legal knowledge from Sonia Parras Konrad, Co-Director of ASISTA, an agency that helps and you will hear from Rosie Sanchez who will her share her personal experiences with this issue. This Sunday’s Scales of Justice Show uncovers the laws, policies and practices that women face when they are stuck in a difficult circumstance of being in an abusive relationship and having questionable immigration status.  Please join Shirley and Maria as we explore with our guests the challenges these women are confronted with as they try to leave their abusers, the difficulties of navigating the legal, criminal justice, and immigration systems and the impact this has on the family unit, especially the children.

Meet our guests here now:


2529 Ingersoll Ave, Suite 8, Des Moines IA 50312

(515) 255-917Sonia@asistahelp.org
Sonia co-directs ASISTA, Technical Assistance for Immigrant Survivors, a nation-wide program that provides immigration technical assistance to front line advocates and attorneys on advanced issues arising out of the legal representation of immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. ASISTA was funded by the Office on Violence Against Women, Department of Justice. She is also in private practice at the Law Offices of Sonia Parras PLLC.

Sonia is an activist and educator on domestic violence issues and legal remedies for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.  She is the author of Rompiendo el Silencio (Breaking the Silence), a manual for Latino community activists organizing against domestic violence and sexual assault, published by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Defensa y Promocion de la Mujer Latina (Defense and Promotion of the Latino Woman) published by National Latino Alliance.  Through her work Sonia strives to promote the organization and leadership of immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Sonia is the founder of MUNA, a legal clinic for immigrant survivors serving the entire state of Iowa where she worked for 12 years and LUNA, an innovating culturally tailored domestic violence and sexual assault agency providing services to Latinas by Latinas.

Sonia is a frequent speaker on immigration issues and innovative community organizing techniques, both locally and nationally.

In 2002, Sonia, in conjunction with the EEOC, represented a number of immigrant women survivors of sexual assault in a class action against their employer. The case resulted in a substantial financial settlement on behalf of the survivors (1.5 million dollars).  In 2008, Sonia represented more than 70 immigrants detained during the major raid in US history pro bono filing over 48 U visas To date 42 U visas have been approved and 12 more have been filed and are pending.

Sonia is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Iowa Bar Association, the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild Association, and a Board Member of the National Alliance to End Violence Against Immigrant Women.  She is the chair of the detention subcommittee of the Iowa-Nebraska AILA chapter and the advisory board member of the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. On 2009, she received the Pro Bono AILA annual Michael Maggio award for her work on Postville.

Sonia graduated in 1996 from the Universidad de Granada (Spain), College of Law and completed her legal education at Drake University Law School in 1999.

Also on the show is Azuzenna Aguayo

My name is Azuzenna Aguayo, I am the Children’s Social Worker that will be taking Roxanna’s place on the show this coming Sunday.
I have worked with the Department of Children and Family Social Services as a Social Worker for seven years.  I am am Intensive Services Worker who assists families who come into the system of DCFS.  My job is to assist in maintaining the children in the home of parents and/or family members when they have been victims of abuse.   I assist in connecting the families with services such as Individual Therapy, Parenting, Domestic Violence, Substance abuse treatment programs, etc…
A great deal of the families that I work for have Mother’s who have been victims of Domestic Violence and are undocumented immigrant.

A little background information on me.

I was born and raised in East Los Angeles.  I am the second of four children and the first person to attend the university on both sides of my family.  I graduated University of California Santa Cruz in 1994 with a B.A. in Sociology.  I completed 52 graduate credits form California State University in Los Angeles in Child Development and Education.  I was a teacher for The Los Angeles Unified School District for 5 years.
I became a stay at home Mother in the year 2000.  I raised my son for two and a half years and returned to the work force at the end of 2002.
I have worked for the Department of Children and Family Social Services for the past 7  years.  Although it is a very emotionally loaded job, I believe I found my calling.

Appearing On the show for the personal side of this issue is Rosie Sanchez:

Rosie Sanchez

My name is Rosa Maria Sanchez, I am currently at Mexicali, Baja California after serving a sentence of 25 years to life at the California institution for women, for a crime I did not commit.  I have the utmost respect for the sanctity of human life.

This is the fact of my unique case. In 1985, I was a business owner, operating a wholesale store called “Rosey’s of California,” in the garment district in Los Angeles, California. I sold women’s and children’s clothes, I had customers from San Francisco, Palm Spring, Chicago, Texas, Washington, Oklahoma and Mexico. I used to have a casual relationship with my neighbors and I never had problems with anyone.

At the time of my arrest, I was 24 years old, a single mother of four children, Gustavo 7 years, Irving 5 years, Rosie 4 years and Grace 2 years. My grasp of English language was less than fair, for over a year I waited for my case to come to trial, faith walled up, in the judicial system, in my attorney and in knowing my own innocence. I knew there was no possible way that they would find me guilty of a crime I did not commit.

My heart goes out to the victims of this tragedy and their families. Adam Ramos was greatly mistaken when he saw a profile of a woman for about 5 seconds and believe to be me.  When the fire occurred, I was sleeping at home with my four children, my sister Lorena, a live in baby-sitter Juanita, and a friend and neighbor Maribel, who needed a ride from work to home because her car had broke down the day before.

I had no reason to commit such a crime, I had a successful business, and I have financial records that will verify that my business was doing very well.  My store was in the same building where the fire occurred, it was only 2 doors adjacent from Maribel’s store.  I could have easily lost my business and I had no insurance.

When I was arrested and accused of starting the fire, my attorney arranged bail and one week later on Christmas Eve 1985, I was released on $100,000.00 bail. While I was out on bail I continued working and taking care of my children, I could have easily fled to Mexico, but I did not because I was not guilty. I thought that justice would prevail, despite the enormous amount of evidence to prove my innocence and the (69) favorable witness on my behalf.  Evidence that the jury did not see because of my attorney’s failure to introduce it during my trial, my attorney was more concerned about saving court time that to defend my innocence. Approximately, after 8 hours of testimony, defense taking approximately 30 minutes, with not a single thread of physical evidence and only highly questionable hearsay evidence, I was convicted of a crime I did not commit.

Since my conviction I have been seeking legal assistance to prove my innocence to no avail. The courts denied my appeal not on the merits of the case, but due to 80 days delay (which were circumstances beyond my control that did not allow me to file on time).  Also the sentencing judge Sam Bubrick wrote numerous letters to BPT and CDC urging them to recommend a recall of sentencing under pc 1170(d).

Finally, on October 14, 2009, the Board of Prison Terms panel… (PLEASE ASK HEIDI)

For years I pray that they will see me case for what it is, a miscarriage of justice. Finally after almost 24 years they review the facts of my unique case, and they determine that it was time to correct the wrong done to my family and me.  Unfortunately, the injustice did not end then, (Heidi can explain better what I mean by this). Now, I am living as a productive member of my community in Mexicali, Baja California and my children continue to visit me, the nightmare is not over yet.

My children deserve to be reunited with their mother after more the 23 long years of pain and suffering.  As hard as it can be, the Governor should give back to my family their belief in what they thought America stood for “Liberty and Justice.”

Very truly yours,

Rosie M. Sanchez

P.S.  PERSONAL INFORMATION: (686) 556-4550 home .… (686) 243-7461 cell

SKYPE:  (RMA318201)

What’s on the Sunday February 13th, 2011 Show?

Shirley and Maria will chat with the star lined cast of Poetic Justice. You’ll love this show. Everyone else does. Here’s what some have said about the show;

“Great talent–great message. You need to find a way to reach larger audiences.”
“The world needs more of these real people to spread a powerful message.”
“Will tell as many people as possible. Excellent!!”
“EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! I loved every moment–especially the Q&A.”
“I caught so many glimpses of how scary prison can be and not in the way you see on TV.”
“We are so glad you came!”
“Great singing!”
“They kept it real–can’t do any better than that!”
“It was as close to perfect as I’ve seen.”
“I’m going to recommend this play and this project to everyone on Facebook!”
“They completely flipped the script!”
“Great job by all! I would love to see more from this group.”
“This show put a human face on prisoners.”

Deborah Tobola’s bio

Deborah Tobola, founding Artistic Director of the Poetic Justice Project, worked for more than 12 years teaching poetry and collaborative playwriting, as well as managing an Arts in Corrections program in California prisons. Her students won writing awards, published their work in journals and magazines and appeared on local television and national radio. Author ofOff The Hook, Deborah produced six original plays at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo before leaving to begin the Poetic Justice Project. A widely published poet and children’s book author, her work has earned four Pushcart Prize nominations and three Academy of American Poets awards.

Guillermo Willie’s bio:
I spent over half of my life in prison and have been “out here” for about two years now. I find the world to be a very beautiful place and have learned to not take even the seemingly simple things for granted. I learned that in prison. Prison was a very eye-opening experience for me and I actually began to become free while in there. I became involved with various aspects of prison life, some that were very positive and some that were very negative. Fortunately, I learned from all of it and  now find myself “out here,” still doing my darndest to be the best human being that I might possibly be. Being a good human being is an art. It is art.  And I want to be the best possible artist that I can be . . .

Bull Chaney’s bio:

For 25 years, Bull Chaney was either incarcerated or on parole. It was in prison that he had a vision of how to help people like himself, convicts addicted to drugs. He left prison in 1996 with a vision that became the Gryphon Society, the nonprofit that Bull operates with his wife, Marie and partners Becky Brown and Jimmy Desatoff. They opened their first sober living home in 2000 and now Gryphon Society has nine sober living homes on California’s Central Coast. Based on 12-step recovery and community service, Gryphon Society helps men and women coming out of jail or prison, reintegrate into their communities. Bull Chaney plays Running Bull in Off The Hook and serves on Poetic Justice Project’s Advisory Board, as well as the San Luis Obispo County Homeless Coalition. In 2009, he was appointed by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to the Homeless Services Oversight Council.

Jorge Manly Gil’s bio

Jorge Manly Gil has 20 years of experience in the social service field, for both non-profit agencies and not-for-profit communities and organizations such as Catholic Worker, the San Diego American Indian Health Center; Bienestar of San Diego; Catholic Charities of San Diego; St. Camilus Pastoral Center of Los Angeles; Union of Pan-Asian Communities of San Diego, and University of California San Diego-HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center.  He has worked as a case manager, health educator and community outreach worker.  He’s also served as a chaplain at L.A. County Hospital and co-founded two Catholic Worker communities, one in San Diego and another one in Jalisco, Mexico. Jorge Manly Gil studied for three years at UC Irvine and received theological formation at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Community, complementing that with graduate studies in pastoral care at Mt. St. Mary’s College in L.A. He received a teaching credential from the University of Guadalajara. He’s bicultural and bilingual in Spanish/English. Jorge Manly Gil plays Sparrow Hawk in Off The Hook and serves on Poetic Justice Project’s Advisory Board.

The following are links that will tell you all about the show, the cast and the reviews… Enjoy!

Here is the link for our documentary:

Also, background on Poetic Justice Project can be found here:
And this page from our website has audience responses to Off The Hook:
This link has photos from the wonderful photographer Barry Wisdom, who took these during rehearsal in Sacramento:

What was on the Sunday January 9th, 2011 Show?

Ever wonder what happens to children of parents who are incarcerated and/or deported?  Join us this Sunday, January 9th at 6 pm PST (9 pm EST) on Heart to Heart where will will be talking to our three experts about the policy, legal and social implications for children of immigrants.  This will be a show you don’t want to miss.

Shirley and Maria welcomes you to Heart to Heart. Our guests this Sunday are Yali Lincroft, MBA, Program and Policy Consultant, Kristen Jackson who is a Staff Attorney in the Immigrants Rights Project of Los Angeles-based Public Counsel, and Cecilia Saco, MSW, is a Supervising Children’s Social Worker with Los Angeles County Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS).We will talk about the good news surrounding children of incarcerated or exiled parents. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to these children, join us Sunday at 6PM.

Please scroll down to get more information on our guests and this topic.

On January 9th, these 3 women, who are working to open the blocked passage ways for children of parents who have been deported, incarcerated or separated by other means and are forced to leave their babies behind, will share their knowledge, personal experiences and policies around this issue.  Not by choice, but by mandate. We need to know what happens to these babies and who cares enough to protect the children and reunite families.  This is where we introduce  Yali, Kristen and Cecelia:

Kristen Jackson, Staff Attorney

Immigrants Rights Project of Los Angeles , Public Counsel

Lecturer in Law, UCLA Law faculty


Kristen Jackson is a Staff Attorney in the Immigrants Rights Project of Los Angeles-based Public Counsel. She represents abused, abandoned or neglected children eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in the delinquency, dependency, and probate systems both before the immigration service and in immigration court. She also provides SIJS trainings and SIJS technical assistance across the country. Before joining Public Counsel, Kristen clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School , where she was a student director of the Advocacy for Parents and Children Clinic and the Notes Editor for The Yale Law Review. She also co-teaches the Immigration Clinic for UCLA Law School .

Yali Lincroft, MBA, Program and Policy Consultant


Yali Lincroft is a program and policy consultant based in San Francisco , California . Her current clients include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the American Humane Association, and First Focus, a Washington-DC based childrens advocacy organization. She has written many policy reports on child welfare, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation publications, Undercounted, Underserved: Immigrants in the Child Welfare System and After the Earthquake: A Bulletin for Child Welfare Organizations Assisting Haitians in the United States . She is the founding member of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network housed at the American Humane Association. Since 2006, she has served as the Annie E. Casey Foundations primary consultant on children of incarcerated parentsissues and has worked with the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative, the New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents, and the newly formed Alameda County Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents.

Cecilia Saco, MSW, is a Supervising Children’s Social Worker with Los Angeles County Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS). She supervises a countywide specialized unit dedicated to the filing of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) on behalf of qualifying undocumented immigrant children. Cecilia co-chairs the Southern California International Services Committee and is a member of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network.

To better understand the human rights of immigrants who lose families when deported, check these links in English/Spanish

Peace & Blessings…

Sharon Content with the Children of Promise

Dawn was Shirley and Maria’s special guest on Sunday’s Show was Mrs. Dawn Davison,. Just to briefly tell you about Dawn:  Dawn Davison is the former Warden at California Institute for Women in Corona, CA.  She is a big believer in programming to help restore family relationships for the women and has brought many programs including a nursery, spirituality group, Get On The Bus and several others to the prison.  One of our former guests Gigi Breland spent 29 years at CIW and she said that Dawn was a gift to all the women who they continually miss. Listen to Sunday’s show to hear things guaranteed to make you say, “I just never would have thought!)” Joining Dawn on the same show was Sharon Content; Sharon  is the founder and Executive Director of Children of Promise in Brooklyn, NY.  She heads a nonprofit that serves children all throughout the Bedford Stuyesant section of Brooklyn.  She has an afterschool program, a summer camp and many other mentoring opportunities.  It is making a difference in a community that really needs it. Listen to the show to get the inside/outside perspectives of Women Behind Bars. Listen to the archived show at by going to: http://www.latalkradio.com/Scales.php

Dawn Davison, Former CIW Warden



21 responses

  1. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    Our last show on August 8, 2010 brought two very interesting and insightful guests on different sides together: Stacy, a mother who served time at the women’s prison in Chowchilla, and Seymoura, a foster child who met her father for the first time on a Get On The Bus event. What happened on the air is nothing short of magic! The thing that I appreciated most about this show is the vulnerability. Both of our guests were able to open up and show our viewers what was inside their hearts. It was no doubt emotional but I also found this show very inspiring because it is about overcoming odds. Stacy was able to get out and have a very productive life and she is now back with her children and Seymoura was able to piece together her self image just by meeting her dad, which is very incredible. This particular show really embodies what we plan to accomplish in Heart to Heart. Please take a listen and comment.

    September 6, 2010 at 2:06 am

    • nathaniel77

      Maria, I agree, what a heart moving show this was. Stacie and Seymoura were wakeup calls for all of mankind to remember the silent victims in crime. The children are and because they have no say in the decisions made by authorities, perpetrators, or onlookers to look away, they are the ones who should be spoken for by those of us who care enough. Heart to Heart is a special show that remembers the babies and we are committed to speak out for the children. If loving parents make mistakes in life and are incarcerated, the children must be protected and have some kind of access to their parents, for the sake of the children. Wonderful show!

      September 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

    • Hey….I ditto all that Maria just said…it was an amazing show that was both poignant and heart-felt as both ladies talked about their experiences on both sides of the spectrum…a mother losing her children by being incarcerated and a child longing to connect with her long-lost father who is incarcerated. I also thought it was a particular meaningful show to hear Shirley and Stacie talk about their shared experience of losing their beautiful son/brother and the challenges and trauma that it brought to their lives..thanks for being so open everyone!



      September 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

  2. Tonight’s show on Heart to Heart was phenomenal; I am so grateful to be even a small part of our guest Georgette sharing her story. What humility and courage she possesses. A woman who could have been bitter and no one would have been able to pass blame if she had been. Instead her life’s work is to help women who may be enduring even a small portion of what she has suffered. Her struggle was not in vain.
    I sincerely and humbly thank you Gi Gi for appearing on the show.

    September 20, 2010 at 2:59 am

  3. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    Hello Listeners,

    We had a great show tonight. Our guest Georgette “Gigi” Breland was simply fantastic. Not only was she candid and upfront about telling her own personal story about what brought her to serving a 15 to life sentence behind bars at CIW prison, she also talked about her persistence and struggle to fight her domestic abuse case all the way up to the California Supreme Court finally seeking freedom after 29 years behind bars. She enlightened the viewers about relationship with her daughter through it all and the power of the Family Living Unit (FLU) Visits, trailer visits for women in prison and their children, which lifers are now ineligible for. I think you will find this show uplifting, educational and inspiring. Gigi has truly changed my life. Please feel free to give your comments.

    September 20, 2010 at 3:16 am

  4. It was great to her Georgette’s (Gigi) voice on the air on Sunday night. Thanks ladies for a great show and for continuing to bring light to the reasons why women go to prison and end up serving way too many years….it is so important for the public to hear what goes on inside and the many benefits for children staying connected to their parents while they do their time….



    September 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

  5. Maria Palmer

    Dear Listeners,

    If you haven’t listened to tonight’s show, you need go to and check it out. Our guest was the renound expert on fatherhood Dr. Ken Canfield. Ken helped to shape the way we think about fatherhood and has intensively studied the profound consequences of fatherless children. He has been a White House advisor on this issue and has written several books and articles surrounding the topic.

    During our show, Ken delivered a powerful message not only to fathers, but to children of fatherless fathers- Every child needs to know that they are loved by their father. We discussed not only why children need to be involved in their fathers lives, regardless of where the father is, but we also discussed the many programs he runs that help to strengthen the father/child bond.

    He gave some very interesting stats on fathers behind bars. Did you know that almost 75% of the men in prison did not have a positive male role model in their life growing up? This is a direct feeder into a reason why so many families are locked up intergenerationally.

    Our conversation was not only informative, it was intruging and at times, it was emotional. One of the many great things about Ken is his spirit and his kind nature, which you can definitely sense over the airwaves.

    Thanks so much for listening and look forward being with you all next month!

    Maria 🙂

    October 11, 2010 at 3:00 am

    • Sunday’s show was a reconfirmation that the good work that many fellow Americans are doing has far reaching effect.It is my life’s work to bring the microphone to voices of experts in the field of child protection and services. Ken Canfield was our guest as Maria has stated and his work with fathers is nothing less than uplifting and spiritual. His invitation to all fathers to remember their value hits the target, which is right in the heart of fathers. Men who are great caregivers and men who have never been a caregiver to their children alike will be impacted when listening to this show. Bravo to you Ken for your work. May God continue to Bless your efforts.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:43 pm

  6. Julia Harmon Chavez

    Hi you’ll…thanks for bringing to light a very important topic on 10.10 with Ken Canfield! He’s tapping into such an area of trauma for so many of us….concerning our Dads and the need for our men to be as present and involved with their children as the moms…

    Thanks for bringing him on the show…I look forward to hearing more from this man and checking out his books!



    October 19, 2010 at 2:08 am

  7. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    Hello Listeners,

    Last night’s show was incredibly interesting. We learned about programs that help children with incarcerated parents as well as their mothers from the view from the inside out. Our guests Dawn Davison, former Warden of California Institute for Women and Sharon Content, Founder and Executive Director of Children of Promise in Brooklyn. They brought some very interesting perspectives and expertise to the table. Thanks again for listening!!

    Maria 🙂

    November 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm

  8. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    Dear Listeners,

    If you haven’t already, please be sure to tune into our show last night. It is a follow up to the show that we did on immigration in January. We are talking specifically about what happens when a woman experiencing domestic violence who has questionable immigration status decides to leave.

    This show is filled with resources and I learned so much. If you or someone you know is in this situation, this show is a must.

    Please also check out the additional resources on the Scales Resource Center.


    March 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

  9. Julia Harmon Chavez

    Hello ladies!

    What a valuable show you just had on March 13th talking about issues of domestic violence and the complications around immigrant women serving their time and then being deported after already being victimized by their abusers and the system! I think this is an issue that people need to give more thought to and I hope this show will expand people’s awareness and get people moved to do something!



    March 20, 2011 at 11:21 pm

  10. nathaniel77

    What a magnificent show the April 10th show was with Gi GI Breland. What a heart she has that I believe touched the hearts of others. She talked from a personal place of experience, which was so effective. What a bounty of wisdom, skill, heart, and power we all would have missed if this woman had not fought her way through to restoration. She is proof perfect that once people have paid their debts to society, they deserve the same opportunity to participate in corporate America as any other prepared person. Thank You Gi Gi; Wonderful Show!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm

  11. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    It was so nice to have Gigi Breland back on Heart to Heart yesterday. I am continually moved by her passion and compassion surrounding fragile women inside and outside of prison. After 29 years behind bars, she has taken the last 2 years of her newfound freedom to obtain her first fulltime job at a New Way of Life, move out on her own and continue to enhance her spirit. This is a show that you don’t want to miss, especially if you are seeking some good news!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm

  12. Julia Harmon Chavez

    Great show ladies! Gigi’s story is both inspiring and hopeful that there is not only a good life after being behind bars for so many years but a meaningful and rewarding one and there is such a thing as second chances…i hope the issues of domestic violence will continue to enlighten and inform people so more women will be getting out sooner than later…we need to understand the intricate issues of a battered woman and what she goes through…prison is not the answer for women in these situations….blessings, julia

    May 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  13. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    Dear Listeners,

    How did you spend your Mother’s Day? If like anyone else, you were with your mother or your children. The folks over at Get On The Bus and Chowchilla Family Express really understand the importance of family ties. They go through great lengths to connect children and families with their loved ones in prison. Take a listen and hear about the special Mother’s Day visit at Chowchilla. In addition to our two wonderful guests, we were so blessed to have the Sandoval’s, a family who participates in CFE, share with us the love they have for their incarcerated daughter and how much the program really means to them. It was an honor to spend an hour with these four wonderful people.

    Happy Listening and Happy Mother’s Day!
    Maria 🙂

    May 10, 2011 at 2:07 am

    • nathaniel77

      Maria, I am awe inspired by the guests on our Heart to Heart this Sunday. The Sandovals were so humble and giving and the way that they support their daughter must be made an example before many families who have family who are incarcerated. I hear so many ex-felons who say that they spent their time incarcerated cut off from the world and were dismissed by family and friends. When our loved ones make mistakes, we must love them through change and they learn that decisions must be made for the good of society. Rahel and Jennifer are so inspiring; I just want to remind the world that this kind of career choice is so very rewarding. What a great show, what a wonderful Mother’s Day!

      May 10, 2011 at 5:09 am

  14. Julia Harmon Chavez

    Hello everyone…I so enjoyed this past Sunday’s show since it was of course about one of my favorite organizations, Center for Restorative Justice Works! As a regional coordinator of the Get on the Bus program nothing makes me prouder to be a part of this wonderful program and be associated with such great people ~ the staff, the volunteers, the families and our incarcerated community of moms and dads!! Great show guys….I enjoyed every minute of it:-)

    May 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm

  15. Moving and powerful! Youve certainly obtained a way of reaching men and women that I havent witnessed really generally. If most folks wrote about this issue while using eloquence that you just did, Im positive folks would do far more than just examine, theyd act. Great stuff the following. Please continue to keep it up.

    June 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

  16. Maria Costanzo Palmer

    Ray, thanks so much for listening and for your comment. Make sure you tune into this Sunday’s show. You will be equally impressed I’m sure!

    July 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm

  17. What an amazing show! If you only listen to one show, this has got to be the one you listen to. Our 3 experts talked about childhood trauma and the conversation was phenomenal! There is just too much to say, but visit my blog post to learn more. Thanks for a great show everyone! http://runningtogetonthebus.blogspot.com/2011/07/moved-in-moment.html

    July 11, 2011 at 3:54 am

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