15th June 2004

In a first, the Relais Enfants Parents-Ile de France (REP-IDF) organized a special Father’s Day event on June 23 at Fleury-Mérogis remand prison, in collaboration with ASSODAS (Association for the Support and Development of Socio-Cultural Action at Fleury-Mérogis). Some fifteen fathers and twenty-two children aged from 3 to 11 spent two and a half hours together in a tent put up for the occasion in one of the prison courtyards. There were three clowns -two of whom were inmates-as well as a magician and an accordion player. REP-IDF took charge of contacting the families, transporting the children and organizing refreshments. The event provided a welcome change of venue for fathers and their children, who normally meet in the visits room. Prison staff noted the great level of emotion among participants, underscoring the importance of maintaining family ties between children and imprisoned parents. REP-IDF is seeking to expand the initiative onto a national scale and to include mothers in the event as well. Geneviève Videment, director of Carrefour Solidarité France, which regularly backs initiatives supporting prisoners’ children, participated in the event, which was broadcast on French national news.

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Author: rmchristen