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When Dad's in Jail—He's Still Dad

Posted by Ryan Sanders

At NFI, we implement two main strategies for engaging society about fatherhood.

1) Top-down: through communications campaigns and social media and 2) Bottom-up: our "boots on the ground" -- our work with community-based organizations and other civic partners to train and equip leaders to better serve the fathers in their communities.

One such example is our work in jails and prisons. The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently featured a program that's impacting the capital city of Virginia. The city jail uses our InsideOut Dad® program that helps prisoners to be better dads.

“I never had my dad or nobody tell me they were proud of me until this program..." —William Jones, recent graduate of NFI's InsideOut Dad® skill-building program for incarcerated fathers. 

First Things First of Greater Richmond, a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening families, presented the course. “Nobody else can take this from you,” said Dennis Fries, who facilitated the program for First Things First of Greater Richmond. Fries is with AmeriCorps, a federal agency that enlists volunteers and paid employees to work in local communities.

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“The goal is to get everybody to communicate with their kids, to relearn some parenting skills you never knew you had,” Fries continued. At the completion ceremony, the men shared how the program affected them. Below are excerpts from the news article:

  • Ronnell Glasgow, 26, said he grew up without his father in his life and was repeating that pattern with his own children, daughters ages 7 and 9.
  • Glasgow is behind bars at the Richmond City Jail, but even when he was out he said he thought giving them material things was enough.
  • Just weeks into a fatherhood skills training program at the jail, Glasgow said he had reached out to his own emotionally distant father and was communicating more with his daughters, who he said are no longer shy around him.
  • “I understand the importance of not having a father,” Glasgow said, adding that with his own father he was “building a relationship as a father and a man.”
  • One man described having a 15-minute telephone conversation with his daughter, who he rarely spoke to before. 
  • Another described overcoming fear of rejection and reaching out to an adult daughter and his surprise at her welcoming response. 
  • Another talked about writing to his 6-year-old son and getting a reply.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that one recent graduate said after the program, “Being there for my kids is better than any gift,” said William Jones, 22, father of four children. Jones is in jail on a probation violation and plans to enter an addiction-treatment program when he is released.

A new 12-week session of InsideOut Dad® at the Richmond City jail starts soon.

The InsideOut Dad® group-based program can be easily shortened for use in jails and other short term stay facilities. Download our new FREE InsideOut Dad Guide for Jails which provides a road map for modifying the program to either 12 or 8 hours.

Image: [Daniel Sangjib Min/TIMES-DISPATCH] Dennis Fries (left) an instructor for the InsideOut Dad® program, gets a hug from William Jones, a participant in the class who wants better relationships with his four children.

Topics: InsideOut Dad, InsideOut Dad®, father involvement, 24/7 Dad, dads in jail, dads in prison, Richmond Jail, program for dads in jail, program success stories, fatherhood program tips

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