Program gives Rikers Island prisoners chance to visit their children outside the jail

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Monday, June 26, 2023
Program gives inmates chance to visit their kids outside prison
A partnership between the Children's Museum of Manhattan and Robin Hood is giving Rikers Island prisoners a chance to spend time with their kids.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A number of prisoners from Rikers Island got the chance to leave the jail and spend time with their kids thanks to a partnership with the Children's Museum of Manhattan and a philanthropy called 'Robin Hood.'

If this sounds highly unusual, it's because it is.

One daughter never imagined she would see her father at the Children's Museum on Monday. It was a total surprise.

"This melts your heart to see just how much unconditional love these children have for their moms and dads," New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina said.

This is also no joke, security wise. There were correction officers everywhere. Some were in plain clothes while others were in uniform. The incarcerated fathers were brought in with handcuffs.

"It's not the children who made a mistake here, we want to make sure that the bond between a parent and child is still strong," Molina said.

This has been happening since 2018 and used to be only for mothers, but this year it has also been opened up for fathers. Each time, it includes just a handful of approved parents.

"It's amazing. Some of these families have not been able to get together for months or years and it's great to facilitate this program for them," said Kaylynn Mayo of the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

Nearly 130 parents have had this experience on a Monday afternoon at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

"I want to tell the whole world about this," said a grandmother from the Bronx. "I think this is a beautiful program for members of the community and for the children seeing their parent is priceless."

"This is very pro-family and if we want to change the trajectory of criminal justice and incarceration, we have to save this generation," Molina said.

Already, other cities like Kansas City and Chicago have followed the same model designed break the cycle.


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