I often complain about all that's broken with America's "corrections" system. But, after seeing this video, I know one correctional officer living up to the title. Imagine a uniformed correctional officer getting off work, changing into his normal street clothes, and then volunteering to teach dads how to be better dads from prison. That's who you will meet in this post. Read and watch how Washington State Department of Corrections is connecting father to family.
You know about the father absence crisis in America and you know a big part of this crisis is Fathers Behind Bars, but here's a few reminders:
- There are 2.7 million children with a parent in prison or jail.
- Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents in prison are fathers.
- 650,000+ ex-offenders are released from prison every year.
- Two-thirds of ex-offenders, or 429,000, will likely re-offend within three (3) years.
This problem is one the Department of Corrections in Washington State is addressing. On any given evening, you'll find dads meeting to talk fatherhood and family.
"There's no facilitators. There's no students. What it is is 16 participants trying to become better dads and learning about ourselves." —Joseph Nunan (Correctional Officer, Washington State Penitentiary)
Can't view the video? Watch here.
Derrick Jones, an offender in the Washington State Penitentiary says of the Inside Out Dad® Program:
Primarily, the program is really geared toward men learning to communicate. Really, learning how to communicate with our children, learning how to communicate with ourselves, reflect back on our past, and try to understand why I think the way that I think.
The InsideOut Dad® Program is offered at several prisons in Washington State. The goal of the program is to offer the skills that fathers in prison need to help connect them to their children and families—both while in prison and once released.
We are encouraged by Officer Nunan and what he has to say:
What the program does is to let the inmates know why they're there, to make them understand what happened to them to get there, and to be able to say you've got things to offer to your children.
Can you imagine the sense of purpose this can give to father behind bars? To understand that he matters. That he can correct mistakes made in life. That he can work to restore what may be broken in his family or with his child.
The video shows John Radzikowski, a volunteer, explain the importance of having a program like InsideOut Dad® for inmates:
The prison culture itself does not allow for men to talk about their children in an intimate way. What this has done is we can together collectively to talk about our parenting, and not only our parenting skills, but also if we had parents in our own lives. And what that led to is dealing with issues of the heart.
In the West Complex, the correctional officers who volunteer for InsideOut Dad® come in plain clothes, during non-work hours, and they volunteer their time to help these dads become better fathers.
Officer Nunan says of the program:
We can see a direct correlation between this course and the inmate attitudes on the outside of this course...There's a positivity in there (during a program session) that I never expected. And it's something that should be harnessed and encouraged to grow.
We agree with you, Officer Nunan. This program should be encouraged to grow!
Whether you work in corrections or would like to volunteer leading dads to be better dads, you can download the free sample > InsideOut Dad®
InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.