Prison,Parent,Concord Monitor

Parenting from New Hampshire's Prisons

January 21, 2017

Any parent will tell you that parenting is a difficult job. Being a parent when you’re in prison makes that job even harder. Reporter Alyssa Dandrea of the Concord Monitor recently reported on what it’s like to parent from prison. And she joins NHPR’s Peter Biello to talk about the challenges these parents face and her series. This transcript has been edited for clarity. One of the obvious problems for these parents is that when you’re behind bars you can’t see your kids – can’t see your kids as much, I should say. You can’t be out for school events or sporting events or other major milestones in their lives. But what kind of contact do their parents have with their children, if they have contact at all? It definitely varies for each family. Some families have the opportunity to actually go in and have in-person visits, which I think is preferred for a lot of people. It’s very difficult for families that don’t have that one-on-one contact. But through the Department of Corrections’ Family Connection Center, they really give parents other ways to connect with their children, whether that’s through video visits like on Skype, or being able to record their voice to their children’s favorite stories. Some of them do holiday cards or write letters to their kids. So even if they don’t have those one on one visits, they still try to build those connections and to still have relationships with their kids. And as part of this series you did for the Concord Monitor you also had video clips of part of your interviews with some of these people. And one woman you interviewed in jail, her name is Heather Leavitt, and she has a 17-year-old and an 8-year-old. And she spoke about writing cards and communicating with her children. Let’s listen to a little bit of what she said to you. Heather Leavitt: Through the recreation department here, we’re able to get cards, blank cards, birthday cards, things like that. So I send a lot of those to sort of just, a cheery card to let her know I’m thinking. But without an expectation of a response. Tailored to positivity in her life. I certainly don’t want to make her feel sorry for me. And I think at the beginning that was a struggle. Like, I wanted to see her, and I was drowning in my own shame and anger. And...

Read the full article here