Parent Child Visits

Caleb, age 7, rides the bus from Tampa to Hernando Correctional Institution is Brookesville, Florida, where his mother, Mary, is incarcerated.

“Still My Mother, Still My Father” is an ongoing, long-term series that documents bonding meetings between children and their mothers and fathers at twelve men’s and women’s prisons in the state of Florida. More than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent, and approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives. Nationally, there are more than 120,000 incarcerated mothers and 1.1 million incarcerated fathers who are parents of minor children. Documenting family bonding visits affords me the opportunity to not only tackle mass incarceration from a humanistic standpoint, but to also explore these experiences as escapes and temporarily fulfilled fantasies for both child and parent.

Children of Inmates, an organization dedicated to bringing incarcerated families together, facilities these unusual visits, where parents have intimate contact with their children through physical interaction, game playing, singing and gift giving. This program greatly differs from conventional visits, as it is a bonding experience for both inmate and child. Parents perform their identities as mothers and fathers, as volunteers instruct them to get into full “mommy” or “daddy’ mode. Isaiah, age eleven, sees his mom every three months, while Travis, age twelve, tearfully embraces his dad, who prays as he wraps his arm around his son for the first time in seven years.

A boy rides the bus to Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida.

Amara, age 6, watches women inmates march to their dorms at the Hernando Correctional Institution in Brooksville, Florida, while Amara's mother, Felicia, sits behind her.

Jennissey puts eye makeup on Tashanika before a visit.

The De Soto Correctional Institution in Arcadia, FL.

Families loiter outside the Everglades Reentry Center in Miami, Florida before leaving with their Christmas presents.

Arnaldo, age 28, kisses his son Joseph, age 4, during a visit at the Okeechobee Correctional Institution in Okeechobee, Florida.

A ziplock bag full of baby items, including a diaper and a bottle, sit on the table of the visiting room.

Thomas, age 13, waits in line to visit his mom, Opal, at the Hernando Correctional Institution in Brooksville, Florida.

Boys play in the hallway of Homestead Correctional Institution for women before being escorted to the room where they will be searched.

Rogelio and other fathers watch as their families arrive at the Everglades Correctional Institution.

Rogelio, age 44, holds his son Rohondrick on his lap during a Christmas visit at the Everglades Reentry Center.

Jacky, age 2, walks around while families play games at the Homestead Correctional Institution, where his grandmother is incarcerated.

Melody extends her arm to her mother, Tamaya, who caresses her fingers during a visit at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida.

Deera, age 14, looks away as her father, Derek, speaks to her. "She's giving me attitude," says Eric during an interview.

Melody holds her mother, Annemarie, from behind during a visit at Homestead Correctional Institution.

Annemarie touches Tiffany, age 22, who is pregnant with her second child, as her first child, Jacky, looks up at her.

Angel, age 4, stands in front of his mother's inmate ID badge.

A mother looks at her son, who leans his head back on the window at Homestead Correctional Institution.

A portrait of the Smith family taken by an inmate photographer.

Caleb, age 7, whispers into his mother's ear during a visit.

Nestor reacts as his son, Nestor Jr., places stickers on his face.

Angel, age 4, and Caleb, age 7, stand in front of their mom by the Christmas tree at Hernando Correctional.

Jennissey and Tashanika react as they see their children get off the bus.

A girl embraces her grandmother during a visit.

Eric cries after a visit with his daughter and son at Okeechobee Correctional. "They don't know how I miss them," he says.

A mother cries before saying goodbye to her two sons and her mother.

Rodarian sits on the bus after a visit with his dad at Everglades Reentry Center in Miami.

Tashanika sits outside an ice skating rink with her two sons, Rohondrick and Rodarion, after a visit with their father.