James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor
Joe Hamilton, Acting Secretary
Patty McQuillan, Director of Public Information (919) 733-4926

Fatheread teaches inmate fathers to read to their children

APRIL 16, 1999

Goldsboro – Loving parents and thieving coyotes are part of the discussion when Wayne Correctional Center prisoners meet weekly to study children’s books and think about their responsibilities as fathers, as part of the prison’s Fatheread program.

"Fatheread gives inmate fathers a chance to tell their children--I love you and because I love you, I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes," said Acting Correction Secretary Joe Hamilton. "Helping prisoners see the importance of the bond with their children can give them the hope they need to get out of prison and build a better life."

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, nine medium security prisoners at Wayne Correctional Center met in a classroom for what would be the last two-hour class in their eleven-week program. They started the class by passing out copies of a paperback children’s book.

"I go where I want, I do what I want, and I take what I want," inmate Ray Sanchez read from Coyote Steals the Blanket. Instructor Kathryn Meningall urged him to read with more expression. Sanchez growled out the words like a coyote and the teacher smiled her approval as the class laughed.

As prisoners read the book, Meningall encouraged them to adopt a voice for each character and add emphasis that will capture their children’s attention. After they finish, Meningall led a discussion of the book, something she hopes the fathers will do with their children.

Attending Fatheread at Wayne earns the prisoners a special three-hour visit with their children. In the usual weekly visits, the prisoner meets with several visitors at once in a room where other prisoners and families meet. In their Fatheread visit, the prisoner’s only role will be that of father.

Kathryn Meningall,
Fatheread Instructor

Meningall 1 :13 .wav

Meningall 2 :16 .wav

photo scrapbook

When My Daddy's Away-
written by the prisoners in
the Fatheread class of
Wayne Correctional Center
for their children

At 8:30 Sunday morning, the men stared out barred windows at the prison parking lot. They’ve asked their families to bring the children to the prison for this special visit. For some of the children and families, that was asking too much. But by 9 a.m., four dads were playing with seven happy children.

After giving them some time together, Meningall called them into a circle and passed out a book entitled Love You Forever. Looking at his child, one of the inmates read, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

As the reading ended, the fathers gave their children wrapped presents. Eagerly, the youngsters tore off the wrapping to find paper mache animals, characters from children’s books. Then they painted with watercolors, ate a snack and talked. The fathers cleaned up spills and one even changed a diaper. The prison program staff who helped organize the class and the children’s visit kept a watchful eye on the children and prisoners. By 12, family members had picked up the children and the inmate fathers had begun cleaning up the room.

"The idea of Fatheread is to let the child know that his father still loves him and is concerned about him," said Meningall. "We start by talking about children’s books in class, but the men learn how to become interested in that child and show them love."

Wayne Correctional Center is the only prison with a Fatheread visiting day. Other prisons allow fathers to check out books on visiting day to read to their children. At the six prisons that offer Fatherread, the program runs eight to twelve weeks. At each prison, the success of the class relies on the instructor and the support they receive from prison staff.

Fatheread programs are at Dan River Prison Work Farm in Yanceyville, Craven Correctional Institution at Vanceboro, Nash Correctional Institution at Nashville, Pender Correctional Institution at Burgaw and Stokes Correctional Center at Walnut Cove.

Gov. Hunt launches initiative to support responsible fatherhood - acrobat file from Gov. Hunt's press release web page - April 12, 1999 (must have acrobat reader installed on your computer to view this file.)

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