Brian Hamacher

Kids Visit Inmate Dads at Everglades Correctional Institution

Thanks to a group called Children of Inmates, 44 men incarcerated at the Everglades Correctional Institution get to spend a day with their families for the holidays.

"It actually lifts my spirits up, it actually makes me feel like a human being again, the way that they treat us here," said inmate Chris Montoya, who visited with his son, CJ. "It’s actually a blessing."

"The reunification process that takes place between the children and the fathers is just amazing, there’s no way to describe it, you just have to see it, the looks on the children’s faces," assistant warden Ann Casey said.

Benjamin Winn was overwhelmed; it was the first time he's ever met his father, who went to prison a month before he was born.

"This is the best Christmas I ever had," Andras Winn said. "Pretty big, can't wait to get out there and really raise him the right way."

It's more than just a feel-good, morale-boosting exercise. Prison officials said the family reunifications pay real dividends down the road.

"This is actually helping me to build my relationship with my boys," inmate Yosvani Morales said.

"It's not just about the inmates themselves, it is also about those children," Casey said. "We want to do anything we can to strengthen the bond between the father and the child."

All the men are being released soon, and events like this prepare them to re-enter society.

"Kids whose parents are incarcerated are at greater risk and we want to change that, we want them to be happy, healthy, productive individuals when they grow up and this is part of it," said Shellie Solomon, with Children of Inmates.

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