Jerri Pawl, former Director, Infant-Parent Program, University of California, San Francisco, on relationship-based practice.



About us





Families & Criminal Justice envisions a future in which the development of every person is fostered by healthy relationships, supportive human networks, adequate community resources, equitable social policies and just economic systems.​​



The mission of Families & Criminal Justice is the prevention of intergenerational crime and incarceration.








The work of Families & Criminal Justice is based in Attachment Theory.  This set of concepts explains the bond between young children and their primary caregivers, and its importance in child development and future relationships.

We also utilize a reflective, relationship-based approach to practice.  In relationship-based practice, "who you are is as important as what you do."  Relationship-based practice provides for the parent what we want the parent to provide for the child: a healthy, nurturing, responsive relationship.










Families & Criminal Justice [FCJ] is comprised of a group of highly-experienced child and family development practitioners.  Our staff members have an average of 18 years of practice with families involved in the criminal justice system.

The FCJ staff is reflective of our service population in race, ethnicity, life experience and criminal justice history.  Most  are formerly incarcerated parents, while 40% are the adult children of current or former prisoners.

The FCJ staff includes seven founding practitioners:

Adam Ramirez, the FCJ Facilities Manager, is a child development specialist with extensive experience in parent-child correctional visitation.

Denise Johnston, the FCJ Director, is a maternal-child health specialist and nationally-recognized authority on children of justice-involved parents..

Dolores Thomas, an FCJ Family Advocate, is a chemical dependency counselor who has 25 years of experience working with incarcerated mothers.


Jessamyn Ramirez, an FCJ Family Advocate Intern, is a certified nurse who works with pregnant, incarcerated mothers. 


Juanita Massie, an FCJ Family Advocate Intern, is a chemical dependency counselor who works with substance dependent women in residential settings.


Lorena Delgado, an FCJ Supervising Family Advocate, is a child development specialist and parent advocate who has special expertise in wraparound services

Tamara Satterwhite, an FCJ Supervising Family Advocate, is family development specialist with extensive expertise in home visiting and family resource management.

One of the most important roles of FCJ staff is modeling for our justice-involved participants ways in which they can find healthy, pro-social developmental pathways while continuing to acknowledge who and where they have been.








In 2012, Families & Criminal Justice acquired the fiscal sponsorship of Special Service for Groups [SSG], a widely-respected and highly successful 501(c)(3) agency founded in 1946 as the nation's first gang  intervention program.  SSG works with community groups to develop and implement innovative solutions to the issues facing families & communities at risk and in need.  SSG currently oversees 20 programs that provide a wide range of human services throughout Southern California.


SSG provides all executive administration, human resource management and fiscal management for Families & Criminal Justice, allowing our practitioners to focus on our vision, mission, planning, operations and services.


Click here to visit the SSG website.