While interning at the Texas county jail, I met a father who was trying to get his life on track for the sake of his wife and young children. He qualified for the monthly parent-child visit and was ecstatic when he found out that he would get to see his son and daughter in the playroom that Sunday. The first visit happened to fall on his daughter’s fifth birthday. I’ll never forget the look on his face when his children ran into the room. His daughter jumped into his arms, and he promptly took the kids to the tent area we had set up for the play day. A few seconds later I heard him whisper-singing “Happy Birthday” to his little girl while she giggled with joy. Needless to say, I had to leave the room and wipe a few tears away.
I felt fortunate to work at such a progressive county jail. Allowing incarcerated parents to be with their children helps to keep them connected to family and community, and reminds them of their value as individuals and citizens. As clinical social workers, we must remember to work with our clients to push for better programming and more humane treatment, particularly within the realm of criminal justice.
(Image via Texas Department of Criminal Justice)