WEB EXCLUSIVE: Jail program promotes father-child relationships
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Muscogee County Jail has opened a new program aimed at helping incarcerated fathers reconnect with their children.
It's the fourth such program geared toward educating a rehabilitating inmates.
The Muscogee County Jail Fatherhood Dorm houses 16 inmates at a time and the main goal is to help them communicate with their children.
"We expect these people in these various programs to not only be better people in our community and better citizens, but also we are expecting people from this dorm: people who are incarcerated, when they reconnect with their families and their children it cuts down that recidivism rate almost by half," explains Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr.
The men have to pass a certain criteria to be chosen for the program, and the ones living in the dorm are thankful for the opportunity.
"It gives you the chance to express yourself as a father and find yourself even though you are incarcerated," said inmate Adam Abrams.
"It feels good," said fellow inmate Brett Johnson. "It gives you a chance to learn and it gives us the opportunity to learn how to be a role model and a better father."
The Muscogee County Library has donated books and volunteers to help the fathers encourage their children in school.
"We are talking about how they can make their children great readers and they will learn how they will be able to read with children ages zero to five," explained Lyn Seaman, Early Learning Coordinator of the Muscogee County Library.
"Part of this program is reading them to their children," Darr added. "That's one of the things we are going to be teaching them how to do. We want them to feel very comfortable in every phase of this program."
Johnson believes his involvement has furthered his child's education.
"Children that are read to and know how to read do better in school and do better in life and they are less likely to come here," Johnson said.
The inmates are grateful to have their kids visit them in jail, and they say the experience also teaches them a lesson.
Abrams knows this is not a place where he wants his children to ever end up.
"It is kind of degrading, but at the same time your children do want to see you regardless of where you are at and it makes them feel better to know they can see their father and have some kind of contact with him," Abrams said.
"It shows them a place they don't want to come to," Johnson added.
Inmates can be in the fatherhood dorm from six to eight weeks and then another group of inmates will cycle into the program.
Sheriff Darr said there isn't a penny of tax payer dollars being spent. Fatherhood dorm is made possible entirely by volunteers and donations.
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