Prison father, daughter dance reunites family

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It was a special afternoon for 42 fathers and their daughters at the Indianapolis Re-entry Educational Facility.

They got the chance to have an uninterrupted conversation, lunch and dance at the second annual Father-Daughter Dance.

All the fathers at Saturday’s dance graduated from the prison’s Inside Out Dads program, which teaches them how to be a father.

“A lot of the dads are so excited, and they’re so nervous to be here,” said Ericka Sanders, who organized the dance.

“Just spending time with her, seeing the look on her face,” said Charles Richmond when asked what he wanted most out of the day.

“I’m just thankful I’m able to enjoy this moment with my daughter,” said Brandin Pannell while eating with his daughter. “It’s beautiful. First dance, first time I wore a suit, so it’s beautiful, it’s a blessing.

“They get to see me in regular clothing, so I don’t look like a criminal,” said Phillip Ellingwood, who spent the day with his two daughters.

But organizers say it’s about more than food and dance.

“This is sort of the first step with the relationship with their daughter, and so when they leave their relationship continues,” said Sanders.

“I can actually be a father to them instead of being a guy they come see every week,” said Ellingwood.

The Indianapolis facility is the only one in the state with these dances. The organizer says she’s in contact with other re-entry locations to bring the dances there.

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