For the past 15 years, the Women’s Story Book Project of Texas has been helping women in prison remain connected to their children by allowing inmates who have maintained good behaviour to read to their children. The organisation provides the mothers with a range of books to choose from and helps record them onto CD’s so their children can still hear their mother’s voice reading to them.
One inmate, named Myeisha Garcia, who a part of the programme finished her recording by saying “We’ve come a long way, and I love you,” to her two daughters who currently live with their grandmother. She was sentenced to 10 years after she was charged for manslaughter after killing her boyfriend in a domestic violence fight which she claims was self defence.
As WFAA reports, the foundation was founded by Judith Dullnig who started the project in order to help imprisoned mothers remain connected with their children over the years so, when they return, it’s easier for them to once again bond.
Garcia has been in prison for the past six years and is up for parole this year. “And just know that I’m doing all that I can to keep connected with you guys and to stay in touch with you,” she said in a video diary message recorded by WFAA. “And I love y’all and I miss you very much.”
“It feels good. But I miss her. But it feels good. It seems like she’s here,” said Debbie Hillard, Garcia’s mother. “I would never want them to lose contact with their mom.”
“I want to say I miss her and I love her, and I wish she was here right now,” said Danaka, Garcia’s 8-year-old daughter.
However, maintaining a relationship with their children can be more difficult for some inmates, especially when their crimes involve their children. Tina Dominguez was sentenced to 10 years in prison after she caused injury to one of her children. “I’ve been incarcerated practically my four-year-old’s whole life. I’ve never even been to one of his birthdays,” she said.
“It’s my hope that when they hear it, they see me. They see the mom before I got hooked on drugs. The mom before I got arrested. I just want them to know that I love them. That they are important. They’re amazing. They’re everything that I ever wanted. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I was thoughtless and I was careless, and I was selfish. And I guess it’s my way of letting them know that I’m still here.”
Not only does the project allow the inmates to stay in touch with their children, but it also helps the children maintain a relationship with their mothers and gives them something to look forward to.
“So everybody wins,” said Dullnig. “The prison, good behaviour, the mother, and especially the child.”