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June 20, 2010

Is fostering fatherhood an effective means to promote rehabilitation?

The question in the title of this post is inspited by this recent USA Today article, which is headlined "Prison dads learn meaning of 'father'" and which seems like a fitting post in honor of today's Hallmark holiday. Here is an excerpt:

More than 1.7 million children across the USA have a parent in U.S. prisons, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. T he number of children with a father in prison grew by 77% from 1991 through mid-2007. And those children are two to three more times likely to wind up behind bars themselves, says Christopher Wildeman, a University of Michigan sociologist who has studied the effects of imprisoned parents.

To try to snap that trend, Angola and other prisons across the country sponsor two programs aimed at reconnecting prison dads with their children: Returning Hearts, a day-long carnival-like celebration where inmates spend eight hours with their kids, and Malachi Dads, a year-long training session that uses Bible passages to help improve inmates' parenting skills.

Inmates must show good behavior to participate in the programs, Warden Burl Cain says. Once they feel reconnected to their family, their attitudes improve, he says.  Around 2,500 inmates have participated in Returning Hearts since it began in 2005.  Malachi, which started in 2007, currently has 119 men.  "The ones who were problematic before are not problematic anymore," Cain says. "Prison didn't straighten them out; their kids straightened them out."...

Rehabilitating prisoners through better fathering is a growing movement, says Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.  InsideOut Dad, a program run by the initiative designed to connect inmates with their families, started in 2004 at a handful of facilities and has spread to more than 400 prisons and jails nationwide, he says. "This is a paradigm shift," Warren says.  "People are saying we have to figure out a way to reduce recidivism.  Connecting them to family and community is a key way to do that."

June 20, 2010 at 04:43 PM | Permalink


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I am a working student in Seattle, WA. My father was sentenced in 1991 to 24 1/2 years in Federal prison for Marijuana consiracy. I was just curious to know if these programs are in the state or federal systems? We are hoping this is the last Father's day he is behind bars. He is eligible for a drug program in Sheridan, OR in order for a year off of his sentence. I hope he gets into the program!!!

Posted by: Eve | Jun 20, 2010 8:22:11 PM

I really want to thank the white lawyer. I just forgot I had kids. Now, that I have been reminded, I will end my full time career at the Roman Orgy, crack addiction, my lucrative criminal career, and shooting on the spot anyone that disrespects me.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 20, 2010 11:04:03 PM

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