Maintaining Family Bonds Through Prison Bars, One Kid’s Book At A Time

Listen Now
Photo: AC Jail Reading Program
University of Northern Colorado Criminal Justice graduate students Alexandra Murphy and Troy Van Dress prepare packages for the inmate reading program with Assistant Professor Kyle Ward, the initiative's founder.

Visitations between children and parents who are inmates at the Weld County Jail take place over a computer -- the visitors in one room and the prisoner in another. It's a system that isn't very conducive to bonding, but Kyle Ward, a professor and researcher at University of Northern Colorado is looking at a novel approach to help families stay connected to each other.

Most of the inmates who are eligible to participate in the program are in jail for low-level offenses and scheduled to be released within a year or two. Ward told Colorado Matters about a program he started in which inmates read children's books, attaching a personal message at story's end. Ward records the session, then creates a CD that's sent to the family at home. The recordings aim to help ease an inmate's re-entry into family life. Here's what one sounds like