Incarcerated fathers at Portsmouth jail bond with their children during 'Father's Day Dance'

M.A.N. Foundation Father's Day Dance
Posted at 10:37 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-19 23:47:12-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A local organization gave children a Father’s Day to remember for a lifetime.

The M.A.N. (Men Alleviating Negativity) Foundation and the Portsmouth Sheriff's Department held a Father's Day dance bonding event for fathers who are incarcerated and their children.

"It feels good because I ain’t seen them in a few months and like I said, it ain't no visits so it’s a good opportunity I appreciate it," James Barhl Jr., an incarcerated father said.

Incarcerated fathers are getting the chance to bond with their children for a few hours, just one day before Father’s Day.

Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore says events like this are needed to keep families together.

"When somebody goes away for two, three or five years and don’t have any direct contact with those family members, especially those children, it can be devastating to the children and the person incarcerated.

According to a prison fellowship report, one in 14 children have an incarcerated parent. To be eligible, fathers had to have good behavior behind bars, after completing two classes.

"We teach a small parenting class just so they can know about what’s the expectation of parents," Dr. Jaclyn Walker said, the Executive Director of the M.A.N. Foundation.

Walker says the foundation’s goal is to help combat recidivism and provide resources for children of incarcerated parents.

"It pegged us to want to do something in our local city to make sure that these men and children form these bonds so they’re able to be productive citizens," Walker said.

Barhl says this bonding event makes a big difference in maintaining a relationship with his children.

"It’s a good program. I think they should keep it going," he said.

"Phone conversations are one thing but having that direct eye to eye contact like this event and being able to be personable with loved one, it makes a huge difference," Sheriff Moore said.