CNN features fatherhood initiative at Richmond City Jail

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Richmond City Jail inmates were featured on CNN Wednesday night. It’s part of the series called “This Life with Lisa Ling” that looks at the jail’s initiative to help inmates become better fathers.

Terrence Williams is one of those fathers. He’s been in and out of jail more than a dozen times.

“Just about all of my charges were drug charges,” said the 34-year-old.

Williams has 5 kids, and thanks to the REAL Program at the jail, he now knows what it means to be a father.

“When I didn’t have no money I didn’t come around because I didn’t feel like I could be a father,” he said. “And being in this program taught me that what I thought was being a father wasn’t being a father at all. Being a father is spending time with your children.”

REAL stands for ‘Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lifestyles.’

“The main goal is to prepare them for re-entry so that they don’t come back,” said Sarah Scarbrough, the internal program director at the jail.

The fatherhood initiative is a major part of that. CNN’s program on Wednesday featured “Fatherless Towns.”

“Unfortunately, Richmond has such an extremely high rate of premarital births and fatherless homes,” Scarbrough explained. “Boys who grow up without their dads are 87% more likely to be incarcerated than those with fathers in their homes.”

The father-daughter dance is one of the highlights of the program. The jail hosts it, and gives the inmates and their daughters a chance to dress up and bond.

“When I hugged my daughter and she embraced me and then she cried, that kind of let me know the pain and what she was going through out there, without her father,” said Williams.

“They taught me how to express myself to my children, they taught me how to understand my children, how to deal with them,” said Aziz Scott, a former inmate also featured on CNN’s show.

“That’s what motivates me and inspires me to get out and do the right thing,” said Williams about his kids.

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