Yes, it is holiday schedule in most U.S. Prisons until January 2, 2012. What does this mean? For staff it means extra time off and for inmates it means more-allotted telephone minutes, more visiting time and often HIGH anxiety. Being in prison during the holidays is tough. Children are missed and children miss their parents. Last week I appeared on a radio program where the host suggested that these children were better off “without their criminal parent.” That is not usually the case. While there are situations where a violent offender is incarcerated who should be kept away from children, we must remember that the majority of people in prison are there for drug, corruption or white-collar offenses including identity theft. Most will be released in five years or less and most want to come back to society better people.
So, Christmas without your children is a major price to pay and often it is the child who really pays. That is why we must focus on some good things being done for and by inmates. For example, inmates in California prisons did many things for charity this season. YES! Charity programs inside prison to benefit others, especially children. For example, Chuckawalla Valley and Ironwood state prisons – The prisons hosted their annual Breakfast with Santa for area foster children, as well as children and grandchildren of prison employees, on December 2 and 3. And, The California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility received donations of nearly 500 bicycles that were donated to local law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations to be given to children through the Vocational Wheel Chair and Bicycle Refurbishing Program. Staff will take part in an annual toy drive for underprivileged children of Corcoran. CSATF/SP is committed to donating gifts for approximately 500 children. Additionally, 120 bicycles were refurbished for the event. Many other events around the country were held by prison staff and inmates to benefit holiday giving.
And other organizations like Women’s Prison Association and The Girl Scouts of America have assistance programs to help children visit their mother’s. These children would otherwise not have the opportunity because of financial issues or family situations to do so. All of these programs and others help raise awareness and lead to lower rates of recidivism. We must look and give credit to those who are trying to change their lives and the correctional staffs that are helping them along with the many volunteers who give their time especially during the holidays to help those incarcerated who want to make positive change and need the support.
The true experts in criminal justice want change and this is one way to go about it. As I always say, “change is possible” with hard work. Kudos to those trying to make a difference. This insider thanks you!