NEWS: EMCF holds inaugural “Day with my Dad” program

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) – In many correctional facilities around the country, the chance for inmates to have bonding interactions with their family is slim to none. Here in Meridian however, officers are trying to reset the standard.

Known as “A Day with my Dad,” inmates were given the chance to share laughs and create memories with their families.

“This came up when I saw a model at a prison in Cleveland, Texas. And so I decided to ask this guy, our good warden Rice could we start this program and he gave us the heads up and so we took it from there,” Lead Case Manager Markesha Wells said.

This new program was presented as an opportunity for inmates to make the visitation experience more than just talking at a table. Inmates were chosen based from different criteria. Inmates had to be disciplinary free for at least one year, approved by the unit staff, show signs of good character, along with completing a certain set of programs.

“We felt like it was needed for these guys that have been in programs. MTC is all about programs and these guys have done everything they possibly can do. And so, we wanted to reward them with the opportunity to have a little bit more than a normal visitation to play games and get to know their children a lot better,” Deputy Warden of Programs Ray Rice said.

A few of these inmates have never had the chance to create memories with their children due to incarceration. We talked a few families who shared their feelings on how much this program means to them.

“This is the first one that they’ve had here and we’re extremely blessed to be a part of it and to be here with my dad. And even for my brother, he hasn’t seen him in 4 years,” visitor Julie Massey said.

“This is great. I don’t know who thought of it but I hope they think of it again and do it more often. It’s just great. To see everyone involved, seeing the families involved, seeing the guys having a good time, it’s great,” visitor Demetria Jones said.

With such outstanding reception, leaders hope they can expand and give other families the same opportunity in the near future.

“We’re hoping this will lead to other offenders who see this and want to be involved in that. So they know, they’re going to have to do what’s right, be in programs and try to get better in everything possible. So that’ll make them want to do it also,” Rice said.

Approximately 15 – 20 offenders were chosen for the first installation of the program. Each of the approved offenders were allowed one adult visitor (in accordance with MDOC policy on visitation) and the child of the incarcerated offender. The facilities goal is to have this every 5th Sunday of the month, with hopes of having as many inmates participate with this as possible.