The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

March 21, 2013

Jail dance lets fathers, daughters take a few steps together

(Continued)

RICHMOND, Va. —

"People may think it's crazy to have this in a jail," says Woody, 67, a veteran homicide detective. "But it builds respect. You wouldn't believe what it does for these men's confidence to dress them up. So this dance can have a ripple effect."

The idea was born when a girl said she felt left out because her father was locked up, says Angela Patton, head of Camp Diva, a Richmond nonprofit that works to empower African American girls.

"We thought, 'These girls need their fathers, too,' " says Patton, who hopes to replicate the dance in the Washington area. "But we also thought, 'Let's not just throw the girls and the dads together in the jail. Let's prepare everyone. This is not just some dance that's about punch and cookies.' "

It's the day before the dance, and a group of inmates in the G-2 cellblock — some of whom are attending — sit on plastic chairs for a fatherhood class. The class is part of a program for inmates who want to change negative social behaviors and recover from substance abuse. As they gather, guards with guns and walkie-talkies circulate through the halls.

"Waking up in this bleak place is depressing as hell. But it's only temporary. Remind yourself, you are just passing through," one poster reads. Also on the walls are the Serenity Prayer, Martin Luther King Jr.'s, "I have a dream" speech and warnings against excessive cursing and use of "the N-word."

Only some of the inmates will be allowed to attend the dance. It's open only to nonviolent offenders; interested fathers are interviewed by a jail deputy and have their criminal histories reviewed. They must also get permission from the child's mother.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014