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Old 08-12-2005, 01:05 PM
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Default PACT brings prison moms back into children's lives


Having a mother in prison is a tough situation for any family. In Illinois, the prison system is using a new system to help incarcerated mothers stay in closer touch with families who are too far away to visit.

Omega and Debbie are two of the 50 mothers taking part in an Illinois prison program called PACT, (Parent and Child Together) providing thirty minute video-conference visits with their children who live too far to visit in person.

Deborah, who is serving time for embezzlement, says, "I's the most wonderful feeling in the whole world. Imiss my children so much."

Omega is serving an either year sentence for selling drugs. “I'm still getting a chance to help my son even though I'm here."

In Illinois, almost 3,000 women are currently serving time in state prisons. Eighty percent of them have children. At the Decatur Women's Correctional Center, they're all mothers.

Mary Kepler, warden of the Decatur Women's Correctional Center, says, "Anytime you can involve a woman with her children, you will reduce the chances that she'll come back into any facility again. By doing that you will have the same impact on her children since we know that going to prison can become intergenerational."

Eligible mothers must earn their visits by maintaining impeccable behavior in prison and participating in parental counseling sessions.

For Omega, who has five years left to serve, the positive impact of these visits on her twelve-year-old son Max already obvious.

"His attitude is changing,” she says. “His behavior has changed drastically. His grades are picking up and just his overall personality is totally different."

But during this visit, Max grew uncomfortable in front of our camera and the prospect of seeing mom in prison on a real TV. His mother, ready for the rare opportunity to parent.

"You don't have to be embarrassed because of something I did,” she said. “That's not your fault. I know kids can be cruel at times but we you don't have to carry that. That's not your fault."

Dr. Jewell Oates says, "PACT allows the moms to stay involved. They have something to come home to they have a relationship to build upon they have reason to change their lives and remain with their children."

"Without the video conferencing, I wouldn't know him and he wouldn't know me and we wouldn't have a relationship," says Omega.

Get well soon David! You are in our thoughts
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Old 08-21-2005, 07:23 PM
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I think that would be the worse thing , to be seperated from your kids, especially little children. We can handle the spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend being gone but to be a parent taken from your small child that would be so heartbreaking.
~There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
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Old 08-21-2005, 09:13 PM
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Why don't they have this for dads? If they have long sentences and are out of state their children never get to know them at all. My fiance hasn't seen his kids in 10 years.
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