In the 21 years that he’s been locked up for aggravated robbery, Houston native Joseph Knotts lost contact with his family. That changed when Knotts and his father were reunited recently through a first-time Christmas program designed to reacquaint inmates with their families, reports the Houston Chronicle. In a cold Texas prison gymnasium, Knotts and his father hugged and cried as they met face to face for the first time since 1984.
They then shared a Christmas dinner, surrounded by other inmates and their families, and tried to console each other as they thought about all the time they had lost. The event, the first of its kind in any Texas prison, was part of a faith-based pilot project called the Criminal Recovery and Relapse Prevention Program. The Christmas dinner was designed to restore broken families, said the program’s founder. While such events may draw criticism from some crime victims and others, the program’s mission is rehabilitative. Family connections are critical, experts say, if inmates are to become law-abiding citizens once they are released.