Family day brings together families at Montana State Women's Pri - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Family day brings together families at Montana State Women's Prison

Posted: Updated:

At the Montana Women's Prison, family day is the one day out of the year where inmates are reunited with their families. 

Family day is a big celebration, similar to a carnival with various activities like face painting, a bounce house, with food and music and much more.

This year 256 visitors and 85 inmates are expected to participate in the event but while this isn't the whole population, some inmates are 
sacrificing time with their families so others can go.

"Seeing this is going to be my last year here, I wanted to give back to the family program by volunteering to stay back to take care of the animals so these women can go see their families this year," said Karen Damron.

Thanks to several organizations, family day is the perfect opportunity to give inmates a sense of normalcy in their lives and helps tie them to the outside world.

"A lot of women, roughly 70% have at least one minor child in their household and they are going to be back and be that sole caregiver again once they are released," said Prison Community Relations Manager Annamae Siegfried-Derrick.

"I really believe the female offender is a lot different because of the emotional bonds and ties that we make with each other," adds Meena Crenshaw. "So family is obviously very important to us."

Damron says this program has helped her and her son's relationship flourish, a bond that has strengthened for half a decade.

"My son was eight when I came in, he's a teenage now and I owe it to the programs here in this institution and the parenting program and Family Tree that helped family day take place," adds Damron.

A day they are indebted to can't put a price on family.

"Not only have we made mistakes in our lives but we're also mothers, that's a big reentry in society is to make sure those bonds are held intact," said Crenshaw.