Family Support for Incarcerated Daughter
A couple of years ago our daughter did get out, and nobody wanted to even recognize her because she was a felon…and that’s a shame.
(Minor edits for easier reading)
Today I’m here today with a couple who had an incarcerated daughter. Their daughter was an in and out of prison for 10 years, and is now out on parole and has a two-year old son and doing well, but the previous eight years were hell for them. They deserve a high-maintenance certificate for what they’ve done to support their daughter, and help bring her to where she is today.
I was wondering if you could tell me about your experiences visiting her.
It was a struggle for us to visit our daughter because first of all, it was very painful to think that she was in prison for a crime that we didn’t even know if she committed. Every week we visited her. It was very unusual to us because you have to pay to be able to get extra stuff for the inmates, and so we had to pay extra money for just necessities, like toothpaste, and even underwear, and T-shirts, and socks, and shoes, which I found very, very disturbing. One of the other things was that we had to pay for snacks when we visited our incarcerated daughter. One of the other things I found very disturbing is that, “Why isn’t there a system for people that haven’t committed hard crimes to where they can get and contribute to society, and have a job from 8:00 to 5:00, whatever the hours are, where they can contribute to helping other businesses?”
Editor Note: See https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/04/10/wages/ for an idea of what inmates may get paid that do work when incarcerated.
We are letting these folks just die in prison, and worse, we’re letting them get more corrupt because we don’t have any kind of education for these folks to be able to become better citizens.
There’s a lot of people in the penal system right now that are just being left alone. I understand about the hardcore folks that have committed murders, criminal murders, but our daughter did not commit any kind of murder at all. She certainly can contribute to the society, and we were hoping that maybe somebody can help these folks get back into society.
A couple of years ago our daughter did get out, and nobody wanted to even recognize her because she was a felon…and that’s a shame. Here’s a girl that didn’t commit any heinous crimes, and all we want her to do is become a good citizen and try to repay society, and help society, and get a job to where she can make some money, and raise her family and become a good citizen. We would like to see something. There’s got to be a better way for those folks that want to try and want to work each and every day, whether it’s on a teleconferencing, or a phone system, whatever they can do. We can utilize these folks that have a lot of talents that want to work, that want to make themselves better, and that’s what we need to do.
We are letting these folks just die in prison, and worse, we’re letting them get more corrupt because we don’t have any kind of education for these folks to be able to become better citizens. When you’re sitting somewhere in a jail cell, and you don’t have anything to look for, all you’re going to do is keep on doing bad things, and you know what, bottom line is with the people that are incarcerated, the ones that want to really sincerely work and make something out of themselves, give them a reason to work each and every day. Let’s not bottleneck them up and put them in a cage. Let’s make them productive. We have so many different teleconferencing and call centers.
We have talented people that can speak, and can help people that way. We have people that can do things. Let’s help them. Let’s help them become better citizens, especially our daughter and everybody else who’ve just happen to go the wrong pathway. Everybody who deserves a chance gets a chance.
You make some really good suggestions about possible solutions for people that are incarcerated. I do believe there are some work programs out there. I’m not privy to all the ones that are, but I really like the suggestions that you make about call centers and teleconferencing, and things that could be set up in the prison system, and so I just want to thank you for those suggestions. I think that as we go forward and people hear these podcasts, and especially people in law enforcement and other areas of the law, that they can take this into consideration and implement some of the suggestions that our guests are making on these different podcasts. I also wanted to go back to what you said about giving money to your daughter when she was in prison.
I know when my brother was in prison, they did supply him with certain basic needs. However, it was very minimal, so in order for them to have any quality of life while they’re in prison, it does cost money for people on the outside. It does make it easier for them, but then, for all the people that are in there that don’t have that, they’re living with the very minimums. As far as what you did provide to your daughter when she was in there, first, let’s talk about some of the things that you did send her money for that she could buy when she was in prison.
That’s a very good point, and I’m in the business. I had been all my life and I am embarrassed, embarrassed to think that a pair of measly tennis shoes costs $44, underwear, T-shirts, everything, jeans, this and that. I don’t mind anybody making 10% or 15% because they have to hold the goods, but I’m going to keep on echoing to the clouds, whoever wants to listen to me, “You know what? There’s not that much money.”
I definitely can see that you’re very passionate about it, and you’ve been through a lot. I mean, having your daughter in and out of prison for the last 10 years, you’ve seen a lot, and especially being in the business, you can see some inefficiencies and inequalities in the system.
In the 10 years that your daughter was in prison, and you did see a lot of the inefficiencies in the cost of everything because you know what things cost, there was a lot of money that you had to put out over the years, You’re still paying taxes, but being a person on the outside, it still costs a lot. That’s something that we really want our listeners to understand, is that when you have a loved in prison, that they’re not the only ones that are in there, that you’re serving the time with them, and if you do have the funds or whatever funds you do have, it is costing money in order to make their lives a little easier on the inside.
I’d like to go back to when you did visit your daughter, I know that you spent money buying food, but let’s talk about what it was like when you did visit her. Could you describe a visit to somebody on the outside going inside to visit their loved one? This is especially helpful since you didn’t have any previous experience with the system when you first started visiting her.
It was very painful. We had to get a bunch of quarters for the vending machines to give our daughter food that maybe she didn’t have in prison, and it’s hurt both my wife and I, every trip that we went there, and we went there every week. Yeah, it was additional cost to our family.
What did you do when you were there? Did you get to sit next to her? Did you play games?
We got to play cards. Yeah. We got to talk, which was very serene because it wasn’t like a family outing. It was almost like we were expected to do that, and every time my wife and I left, we were just brokenhearted and wondering, “Did we really accomplish anything?”, because when your son or daughter or husband or wife is incarcerated, they will tell you that they didn’t do it, and you want to believe them. You do want to believe them, but it hurts because you don’t know what the reality is. All that you want to do is get out of there, and it hurts everybody. It hurts not only the mother, the father, the grandmother, the grandfather, the sons, the aunts, the uncles. It hurts the entire family network.
The saving grace for me over the last 11 years is that I have been with a woman that has been supportive of me. She could have told me just to “pounce off” and, “you’re on your own”. She stood in there with me, but it hurts. It hurts.
It hurts driving out there. It hurts waiting for somebody to open up the gate, and it hurts when they finally let them through, and it hurts everybody. I don’t know how to make this better.
It is a really tough situation, and people don’t realize that when your loved ones, somebody that you love is incarcerated, and you need to go through this process, it’s almost difficult and to explain the pain to somebody, so I really appreciate you sharing because I want people out there to know that the people on the outside are feeling the pain and serving the time with their loved ones.
…if you’re thinking about committing a crime, you are committing a crime against not only society, but you’re committing a crime against your family, and you need to think about what that cost is, because the cost is more than you know…
The very first time was very difficult. I was completely in compliance, and my husband was in complete compliance, and we signed in. We brought in our ID. We had nothing in our pockets.
There was someone watching you constantly, and actually probably two officers that are watching you. You have to sit at tables in a certain position. The prisoner has to be on one side. You have to be on another side. You can’t sit with the other prisoners.
You’re not supposed to make any contact with other prisoners. You get one hug going in. That’s it, one brief hug. I guess doe parents or for spouses, maybe one kiss very quick.
You’re being watched, so it’s one quick hug in and one quick hug goodbye. These are very emotional times and very difficult times, so visitation, even though you really want to see your family member or your daughter and your visitation is so important to you, you just feel so restricted and so constrained.
“Did I do this right? Did I wear the right shoes? Did I wear the right top? Did I wear the right color?” “Did I hug the right way? Did I look at the other people the wrong way?”
You’re constantly under scrutiny. I can’t imagine what it’s like being a prisoner because you’re under the same scrutiny, and for those of us that live under freedom, we’re not used to that. When you lose your freedom even to look at someone a certain way, you forget the freedoms that you have to hug and to kiss your loved ones. These are the things that people need to know when people are going to commit a crime.
I know they don’t think about this, but for the families, the incarcerated persons, there is a prison sentence that we suffer, that we take our time not just to spend the money, to buy them the things that they need that we feel like are basic needs, and we may be charged prices that we feel are not fair, but more importantly, it’s the drive to the prison. It’s the process, whether you have to count so many quarters in a baggy, whether you have to make sure you have the right color of clothes, you have to make sure you have the right shoes. You can’t wear any jewelry. You can’t wear a watch. You can only look and sit at a person a certain way, and you can’t look at them without a guard possibly intervening.
You can only sit at tables in a certain configuration, and it is a prison sentence for the family. I know that the people that commit these crimes don’t understand that. They probably don’t recognize that, but it’s important for people to know that there is a price that’s paid by the families. As much as we love our family members and we want them to get better, and we know there is problems in helping them rehabilitate as much as they try, the options are extremely limited, and the sounds of the guards and the sounds of the doors opening, closing. We weren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom at a certain time.
It’s just more than you can take if you’re not used to it. That’s how hard it is for the families, and they just need to know that, and I hope they understand if you’re thinking about committing a crime, you are committing a crime against not only society, but you’re committing a crime against your family, and you need to think about what that cost is, because the cost is more than you know, and that is why it is important for me to tell the story.
I really appreciate it because I know it’s really tough. I’ve known these guys for many, many years, and it really wasn’t even until recently that I found out that they had an incarcerated daughter. That’s another reason why this is so important, because people don’t talk about it because there’s so much pain and so much shame, and there’s so much that people have to go through, and it’s difficult just to tell people that haven’t been through it because it’s one of those things that if you haven’t been through it, it’s very difficult to understand. There are support groups out there, and I really encourage people to reach out to those, and I just really appreciate you guys sharing this today, and I know it took a lot of strength to do that.
I can tell you this, that our daughter has been in and out of jail for different charges, and she is doing better. The good news is she’s doing much better. She is able to on her own and has been able to get a job, which wasn’t easy, but there are a few, a handful of people out there or companies that would hire her. She has been able to get a job.
She is doing better, but I think it was the fact that she did have a child and was able to stop drugs when she got pregnant. Thank God for that, and that changed her life. So you need to look for something that’s going to change your life. Maybe it might not had been a planned event, but it was an event that did help her, and she has been on probation now, and she is doing very good.
As soon as she had the baby, we asked her to move in with us. She lived with us for a year, and then was able to move on her own. She made a decision to change her life. It wasn’t something we could do for her no matter the pain, no matter what the suffering that we had, no matter what.
For a person, something in their life had to change them. They have to make that decision, and they have to change that, or there needs to be a program to help them understand the path to a new life.
That’s what we hope for everybody, and fortunately, our daughter is on the right track, and we feel very confident that it’s going to continue that way. We never have perfect lives, but we definitely feel like we’re on the right track, too a much better life. We never ever want to go back to see that prison again. I don’t ever want to go back. I don’t ever want to go back.
Yeah. I don’t blame you
I think it’s also the support that you two have given her that have brought her to this point. I know that it’s been a struggle, and you guys have given a lot of support and done everything you can to bring her to this, so I want to give you a lot of credit for everything that both of you have done to help her to this point. I have met your daughter and her son, who is just adorable, and I know that even with raising him, that you guys play a really big part in his life. It really takes a family to help somebody who has been incarcerated to support them through the system, to be there for them, and to help them when they get out, and not everybody has that, so I just really want to commend you guys, and I want to thank you for your time.
Thank you. Again, I have to say it’s up to each individual. We were here for her, but if she didn’t choose to do it, it wouldn’t have happened. She’s got to make a daily choice, and she continues to fight her battles. I know every person out there, whether you’ve been in jail or not, it’s a daily battle to continue to know that you’re going to win the war, and you’re going to succeed, and you’re going to be above the law. That’s a choice that we all have to make every day.
Agree. Do you have any last words or anything that you’d like to say? Any last words of wisdom?
I wish the best, the very best to all those that want to get out of this and succeed. You can do it. You can do it, really. Really. Just get up every day and just do it. I and our entire family just gets up every day, and we just try to do the best we can.
You know what? There’s going to be some sad days, and there’s going to be some great days. There’s more great days, than there are sad days, but every day is a special day in my family’s life because my wife and I – we do things, especially family gatherings. The good news is no matter what you do, you can do it every single day.
That’s the inspiration I think you give to your daughter. Thank you.