Normal visitation days for inmates at Florida’s Wakulla Correctional Institution are Saturdays and Sundays. They are allowed an initial hug, and then must sit across a table from their loved one without making further contact. Under a special program, reports the Tallahassee Democrat, inmate Stevie Taylor was surrounded yesterday by 13 of his closest family members. They played board games and moved freely around the room, Taylor’s eight granddaughters and three grandsons delighting in playing Monopoly with their grandfather. Children of Inmates Visits, Inc., in partnership with the Department of Corrections and Living Stones International, a children and family outreach organization, sponsor the Children of Inmates Bonding Visits at Wakulla.
“I’ve been with the program for some time now, about three years. Since the beginning. It’s been a great source of inspiration for me,” said Taylor, 55. His current release date June 2020. The program, which began facilitating bonding visits for eight children, now connects over 250 children with their parents across Florida. The visits, which feature a catered lunch, healthy snacks and arts and crafts supplies, are designed to provide a healthy environment for children to be able to visit with their incarcerated parents. Senior Pastor Gary Montgomery with Living Stones said the program makes a difference across generations. Seventy percent of children of inmates will be incarcerated sometime in their lifetime, Montgomery said. “That’s the basis of this program, to throw a lifeline to the children.”