Program to help children of incarcerated parents - - Jackson, MS

Program to help children of incarcerated parents

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi has one of the highest rates of incarceration per capita in the nation.

To help curb this statistic, several agencies are partnering to give children a second chance at life.

The Attorney General announced Monday their partnership with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to help children who have a parent or loved one in jail.

"One of the most astounding statistics that I have seen in law enforcement is that 72 percent, 72 percent, of those children who have a family member incarcerated will be incarcerated themselves," said Attorney General Jim Hood.

The program is through the Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi Mentoring Children For Tomorrow Program that will be modeled off of Big Brother/Big Sisters.

"It makes a difference not only in the mentee's life, but also in the mentor," said Director of Mentoring Services, Tonja Murphy. "I think the mentor finds out things about themselves that, you know I didn't know how much I would enjoy this."

Former NFL player Chris Burkett from Laurel, Mississippi says he can relate.

Burkett says he barely knew his father because he was incarcerated when Burkett was a young age.

As of now, Burkett says it's his mission to change the lives of other young children in a similar situation.  

"Once they learn and get a chance to learn some of these positive things, it puts them in a position to grow and get better as they become adults," Burkett said.

The program is federally funded and will serve 225 children in Madison, Rankin, and Hinds Counties.

Eventually, Hood says they would like to expand the program statewide.

"It's almost guaranteed that if we don't intervene three fourths of those children will wind up in the criminal justice system."     

Murphy says when children with incarcerated parents are mentored their chances of not being incarcerated themselves improves drastically.

"We may not be able to give that mom from being incarcerated, but what we can do is help that parent or that caregiver at home make sure that those children do not end up being incarcerated."

To volunteer with the Mentoring Children For Tomorrow program call: (601) 352-7125.

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