SCV News | Inmates Reunited with their Children at Carnival Event
Personnel from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Services Bureau’s Education Based Incarceration Unit and Religious and Volunteer Services Unit allowed approximately 23 male inmates to invite their children and grandchildren, five to 17 years of age, to attend a carnival in a grassy area outside the jail compound that is removed from other inmates.
The carnival included food, music, and entertaining carnival games.
“The Returning Hearts Celebration” is a one day event that unites children with their incarcerated fathers.
The celebration is an integral part of a parenting program sponsored by the Inmate Services Bureau that teaches inmates how to become better fathers by promoting personal growth, accountability, and decision making. This event is an excellent way for incarcerated fathers to reconnect and bond with their children. Visits which include personal contact between parents and children are very unusual in the county jail system and can only take place under controlled conditions such as this special event.
The Returning Hearts Celebration was hosted by Grace Baptist Church, Santa Clarita. They provided volunteers, food, and fun activities for the EBI inmates who are enrolled in various educational programs while in custody. This was the eighth year this annual event has been held.
Approximately 34 children were invited to participate in the celebration. The children were chaperoned by volunteers from Awana Lifeline Ministries. Since the purpose of the celebration is specifically for uniting Fathers and their children, no other family members were allowed to attend.
Inmate Services Bureau is responsible for managing 67 inmate educational and vocational programs within seven Los Angeles County jails. There are approximately 18,000 inmates in the Los Angeles County jail system. Within that population more than 6,000 inmates are currently participating in educational programs. For more about these programs, visit the EBI website at: www.EBI.lasd.org(c) 2016 SCVTV
What a blessing I received at this years celebration. I worked the registration check-in and check- out. To see the eyes and face of these children before and after was truly the work of God. Their eyes were frighten as they stood there scared of what was to come and at the same time excited when you asked them if they were happy to see their fathers. Not too many smiles yet, except for a few. And just shook their heads and say yes. One boy especially I notice. He was 16 or 17 and was one of the few that just said yes. Then their guardians just stood there start face as we checked their children in. When asked if they were going up to grace they politely say yes. And I told them they would have a wonderful time at Grace and told them we would take extra care of their children. But it was not until I return to the prison at 4:30 what a life changing experience for the children and guardians and particularly myself. This year was different than others. When the guardians got off Grace Bus the expression on their faces were completely change and they were changed also. They were different. God had touch their lives. They had great smile, laughter sprung out and friendship among. The group hate developed. Tears and smiles where share by all when they received the pictures of their children with their father. When the kids return their eyes gleamed with joy and happiness. Excitement filled the air by all of us. But my most memorial moment is when the 17 year old boy came through the gate. I asked him if I was right earlier( about having a good time). He said ,”yes ” with a big smile and said ” it was much more than I expected”. My dad and I got to read the bible and go to chapel together. So I said see I told you and he thanked us as he smiled from ear to ear. God touched a lot of heart that day including mine. I will always remember his face and especially his smile. It was if God was shining through all their smiles. Truly a blessing for all.