Three hours. Imagine being locked up for a year or more and then getting to spend three hours with your daughter. You get to put on a suit and connect with her. What would you tell her? What happens when the three hours ends and you have to replace the suit with your prison clothes?
I dare you to watch the entire video from "This is Life" by Lisa Ling (CNN) and not cry. I dare you to watch and not see how connecting fathers to their families can inspire dads to stay out of prison once released.
Between the father absence crisis in America and Fathers Behind Bars, we have the statistics. Stats are important for helping us understand the problem. But, what we're often missing is the real-life stories behind the statistics.
Richmond City Jail is a great story of hope in an often hopeless world. They are innovative in connecting fathers and families. They have used our InsideOut Dad® program, the 12-week evidence-based course built to improve relationships between incarcerated fathers and their families.
Richmond City Jail inmates, who were recently featured on CNN, are receiving the real-life skills they need to become better husbands and fathers.
The dads in this jail are being taught the things their fathers never taught them. Those of us blessed to grow up with good dads still make our mistakes. But imagine not having a father to teach you life skills. Watch Terrence Williams tell his story. His dad left early on in his life. Terrence has been in and out of jail over a dozen times related to drug charges. Watch the video below. You will see Terrence, who has 5 kids, learn not only how important it is to be a good father—but how to be one a good father.
“When I didn’t have no money...I didn’t come around because I didn’t feel like I could be a father,” he says in the video. “And being in this program taught me that what I thought was being a father wasn’t being a father at all. Being a father is spending time with your children.”
This is a great lesson for every dad—whether you're behind bars or behind an office desk.
“The main goal (of a fatherhood program) is to prepare them for re-entry so that they don’t come back,” says Sarah Scarbrough, the internal program director at the jail, the fatherhood program is a major part of that.
“Unfortunately, Richmond has such an extremely high rate of premarital births and fatherless homes,” Scarbrough explains on the video. “Boys who grow up without their dads are 87% more likely to be incarcerated than those with fathers in their homes.”
The CNN special focuses a lot on the father-daughter dance hosted by the jail. This event gives the incarcerated fathers and their daughters a chance to dress up and connect...if only for three hours.
Take time to watch the video below and you'll see several dads say things like:
“When I hugged my daughter and she embraced me and then she cried, that kind of let me know the pain and what she was going through out there, without her father.” —Terrence Williams
“They taught me how to express myself to my children, they taught me how to understand my children, how to deal with them.” —Aziz Scott, a former inmate
“That’s what motivates me and inspires me to get out and do the right thing.” —Williams says about the event and connecting with his kids.
We are inspired by the impact Richmond City Jail is having on connecting fathers to families. Thank you, CNN and Lisa Ling, for shining the spotlight on a worthy story. Thank you Angela Patton and your group, the Richmond City Justice Center, the Virginia Department of Health, the National Partnership for Community Leadership, and the Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative involved in working to connect fathers to families and give hope to Richmond. We look forward to hearing more stories like this.
Watch the full episode of Fatherless Towns here.
We've written previously about Richmond City Jail. Here are a few posts:
- Angela Patton and the Date with Dad Event
- When Dad's in Jail—He's Still Dad
- More stories on Richmond Jail and how they reach fathers
Whether you work in corrections or are interested in volunteering to teach dads, download our free sample of InsideOut Dad®
InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. You can find folks who care about fathers and are using our resources in your area by visiting here.