June 24, 2015
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Published June 25, 2015
By: John Rogers
To view the story online, visit: http://wfla.com/2015/06/25/tampa-bay-kids-spend-day-with-dads-in-prison.
… A special program called ‘Children of Inmates’ helped a group of Tampa kids bond with their incarcerated fathers at Hardee County Correctional Institution. Experts say around 200,000 Florida kids have parents who are in prison.
The group, ‘Children of Inmates’ is one of the few of its kind in the country that gives these inmates a taste of normal family life. Some of these kids haven’t seen their parents in months or years.
After the buses unloaded, many of the children ran to their fathers with open arms. Some tears were shed.
This is a chance for these inmates to escape from the prison cells and the barbed wires and just be a dad for a day. Inmate Andre Ashley said, “I miss em a lot. I miss em a lot.”
Moments like these are a reminder that family time is a precious gift. Leo Schofield said, “Don’t waste your time with frivolous stuff, if you have children. Dedicate your lives to those children.”
After the games, the families gathered for a lunch together with better food than what they normally serve at the prison. Some of the kids have a hard time saying goodbye to their parents here, so ‘Children of Inmates’ has counselors available for them too. The group organizes these gatherings these events in prisons statewide.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.