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Program brings children, incarcerated fathers together at three men’s prisons, lowers risk of recidivism by participating inmates.

Inmate dad hugging visiting son

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles are again working together to bring children to visit their incarcerated fathers on Father’s Day. This is the third year the program is made available to fathers and their children and other family members.

The offenders are housed at three adult male institutions: the California Correctional Institution (CCI) in Tehachapi, the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF) in San Diego, and the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. The visits are today at CCI, on June 15 at the RJDCF and on June 23 at the Men’s Colony.

The children, who are accompanied by loved ones and guardians, will visit as part of the annual Get on the Bus program. This year, four buses with more than 110 children and their guardians will travel from cities in southern California to the two prisons. The fathers have to be on good conduct for one year to earn a visit from their children.

When released from prison, those fathers are less inclined to return to crime because of the ties they have maintained with their children, according to most industry researchers.

“Every child wants to see, touch and talk with their father, whether they are incarcerated or not,” said Lea Ann Chrones, Director (A), Division of Adult Institutions. “Get on the Bus helps dads and kids stay connected. This benefits these children by lowering the likelihood that their father will return to prison.”

Get on the Bus provides free transportation for children and their caregivers, travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her father, and meals for the day. The meals include breakfast, snacks on the bus, lunch at the prison, and dinner on the way home. On the bus trip home, following the visit with the fathers, each child receives a teddy bear with a letter from their father as well as post-event counseling. Children with fathers in prison are usually cared for by relatives, often grandparents, who are often unable to make the drive due to distance or expense. The program is funded by donations from churches, schools, agencies, family foundations, grants and other organizations.

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