POSTED: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 5:52pm
UPDATED: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 3:28pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — Christmas came a little early at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Thursday. That's because the EBR Sheriff's Office teamed up with the Baton Rouge Coalition to help more than dozen inmates, and their families, celebrate Christmas right.
It's been a long time since Lucille Francois has seen her children, but Thursday, all four of them came to visit.
"I was scared at first because I didn't know they was going to come," she says. "When I seen them come through the door, I was filled with tears."
Her kids were part of a larger group that got a special Christmas surprise. Folks from all over the community helped donate presents to approximately 30 children, all with incarcerated parents.
These inmates were handp-picked for the holiday party because they graduated from rehabilitation and parenting classes while in prison.
"They see so much stuff on TV about jail, negative things. They see so much bad," explains Carla Creppel. "They don't really get to see the good that the programs have to offer and that you literally get to shape back up to become yourself, and become grateful for this place."
This is the only Christmas many of them will have with their families this year.
"I'm normally together for my family for Christmas," Randy Thomas Sr. says. "It's kind of sad that I'm incarcerated."
For the inmates, it's the best they could hope for. "The excitement on their faces," Creppel says. "When you're in a place like this, you look for stuff like that. Anything to look forward to. To see them smile is so great."
Many of this group with be getting out of jail within months, hoping next year, they'll be home for the holidays.
"This is the first and last Christmas [here]. That's a promise," Thomas says.