Jamaill Burr: Growing Up with Osborne

At a recent holiday reception for Osborne supporters, we introduced a special guest speaker, Jamaill Burl, who shared his experience of growing up as the child of an incarcerated parent and the role Osborne played along the way.

When Jamaill was 2 months old, his father went into the New York State prison system, where he remains to this day. After Jamaill became aware of his father’s incarceration as an older child, he began experiencing frequent bouts of anger and engaging in fights with his classmates and his brother.

Soon after, Jamaill joined his father on a path of healing and connection through Osborne’s programs. His dad enrolled in Family Works, the Osborne parenting course that gives incarcerated parents the chance to make, mend, and/or strengthen relationships with their children, while Jamaill joined Osborne’s Children, Youth, and Family Services.

In the beginning, Jamaill felt constrained by a sense of distance between him and his father. Their contacts improved progressively, with Jamaill becoming open enough to talk with his dad about his family at home and his life in school, and to accept the guidance and support that his incarcerated father continues to provide.

Once a very quiet child, Jamaill has learned to push himself to speak up as an advocate for injustices affecting children of incarcerated parents. He says his participation in Osborne programs -- which lasted for more than 10 years -- has taught him to be more positive and self-aware, and provided him the support he needed to enter college, where he is currently entering his second semester on the way to a four-year degree.

Jamaill speaking to New York 1 during a
recreation trip to Coney Island last summer