I have done multiple visits to the prisons this month. It has still been extremely eye opening. I am finally at a point where the inmates can see what I have seen. Children are very vulnerable and their exposure to the cycle of incarceration is extreme. Last week I received a referral from an inmate at Charles Bass, so I called the mother to follow up and she said it was just not a good time. Her 19 year old son had followed the stepfather to prison a few days after her husband became incarcerated. I have only been doing this work since August and I have already seen firsthand what family’s experience. At our last staff meeting we had an Amachi theme to it. One of our mothers who has an a son in our Amachi program talked about her experiences and challenges and what it meant for her and her son to deal with a family member in prison. The phone calls were outrageously expensive. Books must be sent from a bookseller, you can not send your loved one used books. Your loved one can be moved at any time without warning. I think the average distance that an incarcerated parent lives from his or her child is two hours. The mother that spoke lost her auto insurance because it was with her husbands (who had been in the armed forces.) And it is revoked when someone is incarcerated. The mother found that the only program available for children who had an incarcerated parent was Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi Program. During this staff meeting I realized how passionate I have become about the issues. When I have delved deep into a subject it affects the core of which I am- my soul. As I spoke and retold some of my experiences I felt my voice crack and my voice was tainted with emotion. I speak to sixty inmates weekly and I have become a very composed speaker but among my peers I became emotional and worked up.
Today there was hope…we show a DVD about the program and there are inmates and their stories showcased. The one man from the video was imprisoned at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison and was recently moved to another lower security prison where I do presentations. He will soon be on work release and than freed. I don’t know the whole history of what he did but he is a changed man. In the DVD he spoke about how his father was incarcerated when he was growing up and how he was incarcerated a lot of his son’s life and then his son followed the same path. So I saw this inmate today and asked about how his son is doing. His son was recently released and he received a grant to go to community college. So only now that they are grown men do they get a chance to be a family again.