W. Ky. jail helps inmates become better dads


by Associated Press


Posted on January 29, 2012 at 6:01 PM

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A new program at a western Ky. jail is aiming to make inmates better fathers.

Hopkins County Jailer Joe Blue said he hopes the Christian-based Malachi Dads program makes the inmates better men, too. The jail is one of the first county detention facilities in the state to offer the program, according to The Messenger of Madisonville.

Inmate William Bartlett said he enrolled in the program to enjoy more time away from his jail cell, but he said he is making changes after going through just 16 weeks of the 42-week program, which is focused on helping inmates build a relationship with their children and becoming a good example to them.

Bartlett told the newspaper he has seen an improvement in how he communicates not only with his kids, but with his wife and sister.

He said his marriage was on the brink of failure when he was incarcerated, but since he began the program divorce proceedings have been delayed to see if things can be worked out.

The name of the program comes from biblical scripture.

Malachi 4:6 states, "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

Blue said he hopes the program will put inmates on a different and better course.

"No matter what the past was, we're looking forward to the future," he said.

The program is organized by Hell is Real Ministries and church volunteers coach the classes, said director Harrell Riley. The program was adapted for the Kentucky jail to focus on helping inmates find churches to support them as they re-enter society.

Coach Jason Whicker, who is an assistant pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, said children of inmates are more likely to end up in jail.

"It's all about breaking the cycle," he said. "Some of them had connection with their children for the first time since this class."

Inmates have to keep a daily journal, regularly write letters to the children, keep up good behavior, complete assignments and attend class, Whicker said.

"The whole idea is if their kids are important, they'll do the right thing," he said.

The experience has been enlightening for some inmates.

"It's shown me how bad of a father I have been in the past," Michael Huffman said. "It's shown me through God's word how to fix that."