Father’s Day in Jail
While you might not think about it, hundreds of dads will spend Father’s Day inside the Norfolk City Jail.
“The reality is knowing that I wasn’t a good father because of the choices I made,” one inmate said.
Sheriff McCabe wanted to give inmates a chance to become better dads, so he invited a volunteer to jail: Substance Abuse Counselor Greg Thomas.
“I have a love for people. This is my purpose, my passion,” Thomas said.
Following his heart, Thomas decided to volunteer to launch a new fatherhood class inside the Norfolk City Jail. He visits inmates twice a week, leading two-hour-classes divided into 16 sessions as part of the “InsideOut Dad” program.
One inmate said the classes helped him overcome the guilt he felt for being incarcerated and not being there for his children.
“I felt that I let them down, and I held onto a lot of guilt, which allowed my relationship to grow further apart,” the inmate remarked.
More than two million children in the United States have parents in jail, according to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. Research also shows most incarcerated dads return home without guidance on reconnecting with their kids. Sheriff McCabe is hoping to help these families rise above.
“The feedback I’m getting from the men is that his program was needed. It taught them to become better fathers, and taught them a lot about themselves,” Thomas said.
The curriculum focuses on self-awareness, having a father address issues in his past to overcome anger and grief. There are also sessions to help fathers develop a plan reconnecting with their children.
So far, about ten incarcerated fathers have finished the new program, and they are moving forward with a new outlook on life.
“Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone falls, but it’s all about how you get back up,” an inmate said.
The “InsideOut Dad” program comes from the National Fatherhood Initiative, and Sheriff McCabe thanks Thomas for leading the program.
Thomas is a certified Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder, Substance Abuse Counselor, Master Anger Management Specialist, Conflict Resolution Specialist, and Fatherhood Initiative Facilitator. He is a consultant at Hampton University as a Manager of the Promise Program, which concentrates on assisting “At Risk” youth in the community.
Sheriff McCabe was so impressed with Thomas’s success in launching this new program that he hired him to expand programs and opportunities for inmates inside the Norfolk City Jail.