A new program is helping Louisiana girls keep in touch with their incarcerated fathers.
“Not being able to see my father has been traumatizing,” said Dominque Jones, whose father has been in prison since before she was born. She organized a program that helps girls cope with the strain of life without their incarcerated dads.
“When I was 16, my paternal grandfather passed away, and that was the first time I saw my biological father outside of prison bars — shackled and chained and escorted by two correctional officers at his dad’s funeral,” Jones, 36, said in an interview with TheAdvocate.com.
The program is called Daughters Beyond Incarceration (DBI). One of its events was a Father’s Day gathering June 15 in New Orleans called a “crawfish boil” for young girls of incarcerated dads. The program relies strictly on fundraising. It currently has 30 members.
DBI was created to advocate for policy changes and removal of the barriers that make it difficult for daughters to communicate with their fathers, according to the June 16 article.
“I get frustrated and angry,” said Sun’Shyne Mathieu, 16. Father’s Day is “going to be a real tough day for me. Everybody’s going to be posting pictures with their father’s gifts and everything, and I have to send my graduation pictures and diploma in an envelope, and that’s not right,” Mathieu added.
DBI has also teamed up with Navigate Nola, which is a New Orleans based activist group, which made this occasion and photo shot possible. They displayed a photo exhibit of portraits of the members, soon to be displayed at all New Orleans Recreation Development Commission’s (NORD) programs and all NORD sites.
Jones pointed out it costs around $100 to visit her father at the Angola prison. That includes gas, money on the phone for their conversations, and feeding her two children. When you are a single mother this can be particularly stressful, according to the article.
“Could you imagine your father being transported to University Hospital or Tulane Hospital and you not know?” asked Jones on the fact that the prison has no notification responsibilities on her father’s medical treatment.
DBI is currently working with Southern Poverty Law Center advocating for prison policy changes to create a free phone call system and even become involved with schools’ PTAs, according to the article.
Another organization working to highlight some of the stresses girls with incarcerated fathers may face is Navigate Nola, founded by Danielle Wright. Wright said these daughters face anxiety, sadness and fear. These factors can contribute to the girl having problems in school. Wright said she is working to highlight these issues instead of letting the girls be subjected to school discipline.
Jones said she hopes to purchase a home for her organization where girls could have recreational activities like art, yoga and dance. This would help the girls gain a sense of normalcy, she said.