Twenty young girls were given the chance to see their incarcerated fathers in a new light thanks to a broader reentry program, the Miami Herald reports.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons recently hosted an inaugural daddy-daughter dance at the Federal Detention Center Miami in Florida. Through the special event, the bureau aims to strengthen the bonds between the offenders, their children and their families as they transition to the outside world.
“You are a key to the success of your father,” the Federal Bureau of Prisons director reportedly told the girls, ages 4 to 18.
According to the Miami Herald, 13 fathers, all minimum-security, nonviolent offenders, traded in their khaki jumpsuits for formal wear, while their young daughters wore fancy dresses and gowns.
A prison meeting space was transformed into a fairy-tale themed ballroom where the fathers and daughters laughed, cried and danced to songs like Luther Vandross’s ballad “Dance With My Father."
“I missed my youngest daughter learning to talk. I missed the ‘terrible twos.’ I missed the first day of school,” Anthony Martin, 33, told the Miami Herald. “And then something like this happens where you see them all dressed up and looking so pretty. It just makes you want to do the right thing.”
The father of two young girls is serving a 70-month sentence for cocaine trafficking.
Patrice Jones, the mother of Martin's daughters, said he talks to his girls almost every day and sees them weekly, but she “wanted them to see him in normal clothing."
“They were so excited,” Jones told the Miami Herald. "They have been counting down the days.”
Several national law enforcement officials, such as the Assistant Attorney General for Justice Programs, Karol Mason, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo Ferrer Read, also attended the event.
“You hope this will be transformational, that this dance gives these fathers something to look forward to,” said Walter T. Richardson, the Miami-Dade Police Department chaplain, during his keynote address. “We want the focus not so much on what happened, what brought them here, but what kind of future they can have. Their daughters are their future.”
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(Photo: Federal Bureau of Prisons/ United States Government)