"One Day with Kids" at EBR Parish Prison

POSTED: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - 7:21am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:58pm

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office will hold “One Day with Kids” today at the Parish Prison from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for male inmates completing the Reconnecting Families and Parenting classes. Approximately 12 inmates will graduate from the classes and approximately 40 children will attend.

The children will begin arriving at 8:00 a.m. and the presentation will begin at 10:00 a.m. The presentation will include brief speeches by Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Warden Dennis Grimes, Life-Coach Scott Huber; testimonial from inmate/graduate John Land and the presentation of graduation certificates. There will be a place to take family photos, booths set up with balloons and face painting, activities including singing and a balloon release and lunch will be provided.

The classes, several of about a dozen programs began by Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and Warden Dennis Grimes, are designed to help inmates accept the responsibility of parenthood and develop more positive relationships with their children. This “One Day with Kids” seeks to unite family members with inmates to strengthen family bonds prior to release. A similar event was held in July for 20 female inmate graduates and their 66 children.

The Reconnecting Families class is a twelve-week program designed to improve the inmates’ ability to be successful even in high-conflict and stressful environments, including avoiding being influenced by the adverse behavior of others. Inmates meet with Life Coach Cindy Ray-Huber twice a week for the four months to learn communication techniques, stress management, positive thinking and goal setting. The Parenting class, also taught by Ray-Huber, is a five-week course aimed at teaching parenting skills that focus on positive reinforcement, setting limits and raising a child’s self-esteem.

Other programs offered at the prison include Life Skills, Anger Management and Substance Abuse Prevention. The programs instated by Sheriff Gautreaux are staffed by volunteers and are provided at no cost to the community.

“These programs cost the community nothing,” Sheriff Gautreaux said. “But, they put back into the community in immeasurable ways. Following completion of an educational, vocational or faith-based program, inmates are more likely to become productive members of society upon release and less likely to come back to prison.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has estimated past national recidivism rates to be around 67.5% within three years of release. Just recently Governor Jindal pointed out that Louisiana recidivism rates are approximately 50% after five years. Sheriff Gautreaux and Warden Grimes came up with such programs in an attempt to stop the revolving door.

“This is not just for the inmates, though,” Sheriff Gautreaux said. “Programs not only help the inmate from becoming another statistic, but they serve to keep their children from becoming another statistic.”

According to national studies cited in David Popenoe’s 1996 book, Life Without a Father, 70% of long-term prison inmates and 72% of adolescent murderers come from fatherless homes. Popenoe also cites studies that show that fatherlessness is a major contributing factor in teenage pregnancy.