Prisons trying to help fathers re-establish relationships

By Harry C. Goodall Jr.

There are 24 million children in America, and one out of three lives without their biological father in the home, the U.S. Census Bureau calculated.

When the father is absent it can lead to the following: behavioral problems, abuse and neglect, infant mortality, substance abuse, dropping out of high school, obesity and increased likelihood of going to prison, according to a study by the National Fatherhood Initiative.

To help remedy the problem, some prisoners at California State Prison-Solano have joined a parenting class called Parenting Inside Out.

In class, the men found that to be a good father starts with digging deep into one’s own relationship with one’s parents, according to a Justine Lee article, “Being a father, from Inside Prison,” written for KALW.

When asked about their own experiences of being disciplined as children, the men said they believed discipline was necessary but so was explaining “why” to the child, the article stated.

“Because parenting doesn’t come with a handbook,” stated inmate Abraham Glasper. “And a lot of times our parents only gave us what their parents gave them, and so this is an opportunity to learn things that we didn’t necessary receive from our parents.”

Dameion “Nation” Brown, a former Solano inmate, added, “The things that I could not give my children, I gave to the young people in prison.”

He was convicted of physically abusing his children and was sentenced to 23 years-to-life. He learned in parenting class of the harmful effects of corporal punishment.

Brown was granted parole after Dr. Mary Jo Bauen, who works for Community Works West and directed the parenting classes at Solano, advocated for him.

Since being paroled, Brown has been hired as a case manager by Community Works West, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated adults from 18 to 25. He appeared last summer in Marin Shakespeare Company’s production of “Othello.”

At San Quentin State Prison, L. Harrison was interviewed concerning the effect of incarcerated separation from his children.

“I believe due to the fact that my father was not in my life,” Harrison said, “I didn’t have that role model to emulate what a good man is supposed to be. An important aspect of being in a child’s life is to help him to identify with who he is and his importance to his family.”

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