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San Quentin prison families visit dads, granddads

June 19, 2015
Christina Gray

Almost 80 family members of San Quentin State Prison inmates traveled by bus from Southern California June 5 to share an early Father’s Day, thanks to a family visitation program started by two Catholic sisters concerned about the welfare of children separated from their incarcerated parents.

Founded by Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Suzanne Steffen and Susan Jasbro, Get on the Bus helps reunite prison families, with free trips to the state’s 11 prisons, for children, grandchildren and their guardians every year between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Children who have regular visits with incarcerated parents are better adjusted and at lower risk of delinquency, the program’s website says. Their parents are less likely to go back to prison after release and more likely to reunite with family.

At San Quentin, volunteers brought pizza to families clustered in the prison’s visiting room. Some prison families had never shared a meal.

“These children are paying a price for a crime they did not commit,” Get on the Bus executive director Amalia Molina said. “But when they come here, they don’t see a crime or criminal, they just see someone they love.”

 “We’re a close family,” said Eric Moody, who went to prison months before his 14-year old son Eric Moody Jr. was born. He credited his wife Denise for “holding us together.”

“I know people in there that don’t have that,” he said.

Moody talks to his son by phone every night and urges him to stay out of trouble. “When you destroy your life, your whole family can go down with you,” he said.

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