Nearly 200 inmates who have had good behavior for a year or more were allowed a special family visit for three hours on Saturday at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County.
The special visitation, which began last year, was offered again because prison officials believe it has helped to reduce the number of inmates cited for fighting and other infractions. In September, when the first special visit occurred, there were 183 inmates eligible and as of this month, 277 inmates are eligible.
Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said the incentive is beneficial for both staff and the inmates
“My staff members have told me what a positive impact they believe this program has,” Hall said. “I applaud the CMCF staff for acting on my charge to come up with programs that cost little to no money to improve rehabilitation and re-entry for inmates.”
Up to 100 females and 90 males were allowed to interact with their children or grandchildren with games, face-painting, and other activities from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Each inmate could visit with three children and one adult from the inmate’s approved visitation list.
CMCF Superintendent Ron King has watched inmates and family members mingle at the previous Day with Mom or Day with Dad.
“We realize that most of these offenders will be released,” King said. “Having a strong family support system to include a relationship with their children is very important to their success. The event is also very fun and rewarding for the children.”
Warden Dean Epps, who oversees the females, said she believes it is incumbent upon staff to give inmates something to look forward to.
“The court gave them their punishment,” said Epps. “We just can’t lock them up and not give them an opportunity to change.”
CMCF Recreation Director Richard Caston, who supervises the participating male inmates, said the men were looking forward to the special visit.
“Most of the inmates who have been here for years say this is a way for them to show that they still love their children,” Caston said.
In addition to being at least a year free of a rule violation, eligible inmates also must have been incarcerated for at least a year.