The 13th Annual Get On The Bus Event: Uniting Children With Their Mothers and Fathers in Prison
2012-04-30 · By Editor
Center for Restorative Justice Works and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) are again bringing hundreds of children to visit their mothers in prison on Mother’s Day during this 13th Annual Get On The Bus event.
Twenty five buses filled with more than 1,000 children and their caregivers will be traveling from San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Central Valley, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, throughout the state on Saturday, May 5th and Friday May 11th to visit three women’s institutions; California Institution for Women in Corona, and Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla. Buses arrive as early as 7:45 a.m. to accommodate the maximum number of visitors at these institutions. “Last year, Get On The Bus, united over 1,300 children with their mother or father. This year we’ve added an additional prison to our program and have received more applications than ever before,” said Get On The Bus Program Director Hilary Carson.
Approximately 200,000 children in California have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives or in foster care, according to the CDCR.
Executive Director Kathy Culpepper said, “Get On The Bus exists to unite children with their parents in prison. Distance is the number one reason these children have been unable to see their parents. Most parents in California prisons are incarcerated more than 100 miles away from their children. These children miss their parents terribly; regular visitation assists in maintaining the child-parent bond and helps to decrease the negative impacts of parental incarceration on the children. These kids need to know they have not been abandoned.”
For many of these children, this is the only time during the year that they will see their mother. Children with mothers in prison are usually cared for by relatives, often grandparents, who are unable to make the drive due to distance or expense.
Get On The Bus provides free transportation for children and their caregivers, travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her mother, and meals for the day. Children will also be wearing Get On The Bus t-shirts with the names of donors and supporters. The meals include breakfast, snacks on the bus, lunch at the prison and dinner on the way home. On the bus trip home following the visit with the mothers, each child will receive a teddy bear with a letter from his or her mother as well as post-event counseling. The program is funded by donations from churches, schools, family foundations, grants and other organizations.
Get On The Bus was founded by Sister Suzanne Jabro thirteen years ago after learning from the women she visited in prison that they never had a chance to see their children. Staying connected to their children is just as important for incarcerated mothers and fathers as it is for the kids; research indicates it’s the greatest indicator for a successful re-entry upon release.
Get On The Bus will also reunite children with their dads for Father’s Day. Twenty nine buses carrying children and their caregivers will visit six men’s institutions: California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, June 2; San Quentin State Prison on Friday June 8; Folsom State Prison (“Old Folsom”) and California State Prison – Sacramento on Saturday June 9; Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, and California State Prison-Solano on Saturday June 16.
The media is invited to ride local buses and/or attend the prison events in Corona and Chowchilla. Gate clearance is required.
For CIW: Contact Lt. Felix Figueroa at (909) 597-1771 x 4921.
For CCWF: Contact Lt. Travis Wright (559) 665-5531 x 5550.
For VSPW: Contact Lt. Greg Bergerson at (559) 665-6100 x 5509.
To view highlights of last year’s event, visit http://www.youtube.com/CAcorrections#p/c/568AE1C483A924DF/37/O3p7xiQAbTM.