Moms in one Virginia prison have a new place to bond with their kids: 'Light in a dark place'

Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-06 17:54:28-05

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. -- Some mothers incarcerated at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women in Goochland County now have a new, less traumatic place to meet and bond with their children.

The state has transformed a warden's home into a family reunification home

"My youngest, she was seven when I entered the system. I've been gone four years," inmate Rebecca Mengelt said.
"It's definitely a light, a light in a dark place. That's what this place is going to be."

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Rebecca Mengelt

The colors, designs, and furniture were all purposefully chosen to help make visiting children feel safe. The hope is that the home will help break the cycle of trauma that comes with incarceration.

"Unfortunately, if an individual has had a parent incarcerated, that could be a precept to incarceration," Jessica Lee, Reentry Services Administrator for VADOC, said. "We feel as though if we can interrupt that, this is a stand-in prevention as well."

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Mothers must be a part of a 12-week parenting program to use the space on weekends. They must also meet other certain program requirements.

Inmate Christina Mabe said she appreciated the care put into the home.

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Christina Mabe

'You can tell the love that went into creating each room and every detail and all the thought process that was there," Mabe said. "This is very welcoming and loving and just makes you feel right at home. You know that somewhere that you want to be with their children is at home and not you know, maybe in a chow hall, sitting and having a visit with them, but something that you can embrace them and show them how much you love them."

Mengelt hopes the home can mean a renewed chance to catch up on last time with her daughter.

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"It means hope. It means healing. Restoration. Redirection," she said. "One of the biggest things I'm looking forward to is being able to share that, 'guess what I did with my mom this weekend?' You know, that's something she's missed out on. That's a big deal."

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