Friday, December 16, 2005

I'm going to jail today!


AT DAWSON STATE JAIL in downtown Dallas

The women are minimum-security prisoners who participate in a creative new pilot project of Hope Literacy. Hope Literacy programs at Dawson, Hutchins and Gatesville Prisons train inmates to serve as tutors for their fellow inmates. These women are participants in the literacy program who have also been selected to participate in a program in which the inmates live together in a dorm unit -- which they have named Unity City -- and practice the principles of self-government.

Their children, from toddlers to young teenagers, are being given a unique opportunity to spend quality time with their mothers during a holiday celebration in the Dawson gym. Invitations have been sent to about 75 children.

I'm going to be reading the Tex-Mex version (!) of 'Twas the Night Before X-mas, and helping kids create a mural for their moms to take back to their unit and display during the holidays. I sat around late last night, imagining what it will be like to be in such close proximity with mothers who only rarely get to visit with and have physical contact with their own flesh and blood. I found myself already bracing for the inevitable tears and hearttugs that I will probably witness. I cannot take a camcorder in with me to document the experience to share with others, but I will most certainly bring back my own impressions. It's been a few years since I've had to visit a prison in painful circumstances. But then again, visiting a prison can never be like going off to play a round of Putt-Putt, can it?

Hopefully, I can offer some moments of cheer and entertainment pleasure for these separated family members trying to experience an evening of closeness and sharing. Wish me luck luck luck.

Here's more about the Hope Literacy project.

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