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Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Helps Inmates Bond With Their Kids

First Posted: 01/26/2012 1:50 pm Updated: 01/26/2012 5:39 pm

Estelle Streich felt elated when she was released from prison -- and prepared to reunite with her daughter since a Girl Scouts program helped keep the two close while she was locked up, Azfamily.com reports.

The estimated 10 million children with incarcerated parents are more likely than other kids to suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome and engage in criminal behavior -- risks that the Girls Scouts Beyond Bars program aims to reduce. The 20-year-old program achieves this end by coordinating regular visits between jailed moms and their daughters.

Streich saw her 8-year-old daughter, Haillee Nance, just once a month while she was serving for three years at the Perryville Women's prison, but she said those moments were critical in maintaining their relationship.

"Although we only spent two hours at a time with each other when she came with the Girls Scouts program, that was enough to keep the bond between us," Streich told Azfamily.com.

The Girl Scouts Behind Bars program is often the only resource low-income incarcerated parents can turn to, to help pay for the trip to prisons located in remote areas.

While some are skeptical about the benefits of exposing children to prison life, children who were forced to grow up without their parents say that encouraging such visits is critical.

"But we have to resist the urge to belittle the child-parent relationship in families of individuals who've been convicted of a crime," wrote The Chicago Reporter Editor Alden K. Loury, who didn't meet his father until he was 20. "Incarcerated parents are still parents, and the fractured relationships resulting from their actions will have a profound effect on their children well into adulthood."

Estelle Streich felt elated when she was released from prison -- and prepared to reunite with her daughter since a Girl Scouts program helped keep the two close while she was locked up, Azfamily.com reports.

The estimated 10 million children with incarcerated parents are more likely than other kids to suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome and engage in criminal behavior -- risks that the Girls Scouts Beyond Bars program aims to reduce. The 20-year-old program achieves this end by coordinating regular visits between jailed moms and their daughters.

Streich saw her 8-year-old daughter, Haillee Nance, just once a month while she was serving for three years at the Perryville Women's prison, but she said those moments were critical in maintaining their relationship.

"Although we only spent two hours at a time with each other when she came with the Girls Scouts program, that was enough to keep the bond between us," Streich told Azfamily.com.

The Girl Scouts Behind Bars program is often the only resource low-income parents behind bars can turn to, to help pay for the trip to prisons located in remote areas.

While some are skeptical about the benefits of exposing children to prison life, children who were forced to grow up without their parents say that encouraging such visits is critical.

"But we have to resist the urge to belittle the child-parent relationship in families of individuals who've been convicted of a crime," wrote The Chicago Reporter Editor Alden K. Loury, who didn't meet his father until he was 20. "Incarcerated parents are still parents, and the fractured relationships resulting from their actions will have a profound effect on their children well into adulthood."

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Filed by Eleanor Goldberg  |