“We are excited about the many successes so far and the ongoing dedication by the Chowchilla Family Express because it provides yet another rehabilitative option for so many women offenders, said Wendy Still, CDCR Associate Director, Female Offender Programs and Services, who also noted that the majority of those inmates are mothers. “This bus program provides unique opportunities for female offenders to reunite with their children, who are in most cases hundreds of miles away. We remain committed to extending our responsibility for female offenders beyond their incarceration to improve their chances of success when they return to their communities.”
More than half of the women in state prisons never see their children during their incarceration. Some of the children traveling have not seen their mothers in more than a year. National institute of Corrections research shows that children who have regular parent visits demonstrate better emotional and social adjustment as well as a lower degree of juvenile delinquency. In addition, their partents demonstrate lower rates of recidivism and higher rates of family reunification when they are released.
“I love this work,” said Eric Debode, Program Director for the Chowchilla Family Express. “It is so gratifying to be a part of something so positive in the lives of children and families. The program is successful because it is so simple–the people are enthusiastic about coming to visit their loved ones and we give them a ride. Through this program, the state of California is helping families stay together–and increasing the likelihood of successful reentry.”