Bedtime stories connect inmates to their children

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 6/05/2012 9:11 am Published: 6/04/2012 6:06 pm

Bedtime stories have a way of connecting children with their parents. But what happens when a mother isn’t there to tuck her child into bed?

That’s a reality at the Tulsa County Jail, but now you can help make sure children still get to hear their parent’s voices. The Storytime program has been going on for about 5 years now. Inmates are allowed to come to the library and pick out books to read to their children and they do this over audiotape.

13 months behind bars can take its toll. The days are long and the nights even longer. Sandy is facing a medical neglect charge and while she fights in court, her three children are left with a relative.

"It hurts really badly, but I'm blessed to know my children are safe and they are so happy and well taken care of,” Sandy says.

Bedtime stories can help inmates stay connected with their children on the outside.

"It's so cool. They record you reading it on tape and they let you pick out the book and everything and they mail it to your kids, and it’s like you’re reading a story to your kids,” she says.

The program was recently made available to the male inmates too.

"We have a certain classifications of inmates where they cannot come out of the pod, so we have some volunteers who go to them and read to them,” says Chaplin Mike Hardgrove.

Willissa is facing DUI and possession charges.  Just knowing her children can hear her voice gives her some comfort that everything will be okay.

“It helps me realize that he's still there and he's so young and gets to hear my voice still so it helps a lot,” says Willissa.

Although the future is uncertain for both women, one that that remains constant in their live and the lives of their children is Storytime.

Some of the biggest needs at the jail for the Storytime program are bilingual books and more volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, you can call the Tulsa County Jail at 918-596-8920.

Oklahoma has the highest number of incarcerated women in the nation on a per capita basis.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

TruthHurtsHuh - 4/3/2013 3:09 PM
0 Votes
Sandi is my cousin, and I believe there is more to this story when it comes to "child neglect". She would never intentionally put those kids in harms way! You think you deserve a cookie for taking her kids in? You had a choice! And she GAVE those kids up not LOST bc she was informed it would help her case! We are family but I'm not gonna set here and let you feel like mommy of the year, besides you took in 1 child, and that child is now an absolute terror and not even potty trained so maybe you should stfu thanks:):)

ecltnhny2000 - 6/9/2012 1:50 AM
0 Votes
Sandi Rodriguez is my ex sis in law, she let her new bf abuse her children and she failed to report it until the young baby had to have EMTs called to the house. She LOST her kids because she was neglectful all in the name of being in a relationship. She didnt "leave" them with relatives, we adopted them so they could avoid foster homes and stay with the family.

TulsaBob - 6/7/2012 8:42 PM
1 Vote
if your kids are so important to you, dont commit felonies... seems simple enough to me

aleman - 6/5/2012 4:08 AM
0 Votes
I can hear it now,like Homie the Clown"yea,once upon a time there was a nice man who made medicine in is home until he caught it on fire then the "man" came and put him in this place.
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