Law enforcement officials across Mississippi are collecting hundreds of toys for the children of incarcerated women this holiday season. MPB's Paul Boger reports officials believe the program could help lower the numbers of repeat offenders in Mississippi's jails.
Officials at the Mississippi Department of Corrections announced they will be distributing toys and games to children of some of the women currently being held in the state's jails and prisons.
Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps says the toy drive is a way to prevent recidivism in the state.
"Showing these female inmates that we care about them will go a long way, especially for those who are going to be getting out." said Epps. "97% of the inmates that are incarcerated are returning to our communities. Some of the women this time last year they was home with their children. Our population turnover every two years; we generally take in about 10 thousand, and release about 95 hundred."
The toys will be delivered to roughly 150 families in the 10 counties serviced by Health Assurance -- a group of hospitals that provides health service to the state's inmates.
Doctor Carl Reddix is with the group. He says by providing gifts for the children of inmates, The Department of Corrections and Health Assurance are providing mental health care to prisoners.
"Our goal in doing this is an effort to reduce recidivism." said Dr. Reddix. "What we have been doing as a society is not working. We need to convert to a public health model, and start providing good health practices. Part of those good health practices revolve around the emotional issues that people have when they're in jail. As well as treating those mental health issues which are principally the rationale behind why people get themselves in trouble.
Sheriff David Allison is from Pearl River County, one of the 10 counties receiving gifts. He believes this program is really about helping kids.
"The kids wind up suffering when their mother and daddy goes to jail." said Allison. "A lot of them are from two-years-old up, and it's just sad to see them go through Christmas where mother and daddy are in jail. We thought it was a great idea, and we jumped on board with them, and try to get the children a gift."
Of the counties where children will receive gifts, five are in the Delta, three are is Central Miss. and two are along the coast.