Should I bring my kids to the jail to visit?

Tanya - posted on 05/14/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )




My brother is in jail (he often is off and on). When he is out he is a great Uncle to my children. He will be transfered soon from the jail in our city to a prison (not known where) possibly being there for a year and a half to two years. My children know that Uncle is in jail, they know he did bad things and has to be there because when adult do very bad things and break the law they get into trouble and are sent to jail as a punishment for breaking the law. It is hard explaining to children this because there Uncle is loving and kind with them so I know this can be hard for them to comprehend. I am hoping this is also a good life lesson to my children seeing that if you break the law you can go to jail and your family misses you, you miss holidays and don't get to see your family all the time. I have never brought them to visit my brother in jail. So my question is since he is going to be transfered to a prison should I take my children to the jail to see him before hes moved? Has anyone had experience with this. I have looked at the pros and cons but I would like to hear suggestions from others on this topic.

Also would it make a difference that his birthday is coming up and he has been incarcerated during his last 3 birthdays so he has not had a birthday for a few years now and this would make a great suprise for him?


Margie - posted on 05/17/2010




I know I will probably be verbally attacked, but I disagree with everyone else. I think that kids should not be sheltered from the real world (depending on age, of course). These situations can be great learning tools for your kids. Let's face it, kids see much worse things on TV (Family Guy). As much as I try to keep my kids from watching these TV shows, some other kids parents will let them watch at their homes.
When my 15 year old was 2 we took him to see his aunt in rehab, and it made an impression that still sticks with him today. We used the experience to educate him on drug abuse and addiction. 2 year olds are listening and learning constantly and it does stick! I personally think that every middle school should take a trip to the local jail, not prison, mind you. Kids have this romantic idea about jail and breaking the law. Video games and movies don't show the consequences of actions. When your kids are older you may have to explain more to them, but for now if it is just a county lock-up, it is not as horrible and rough as some people think. Let your kids know that their uncle will be going away from his family and friends and has to live in a tiny room for a long time. Tell them that if they break the law-steal, do drugs, etc.-they could end up in the same place. I am old school; I never did drugs, stole or slept around because I had the crap scared out of me by my parents. Granted, I talk to my kids and encourage my kids to talk to me openly, but I don't sugar-coat things. Not when 9 and 10 year olds are drinking, smoking pot, and having sex. The days of the innnocent child are over.

Margie - posted on 05/17/2010




Dana; yes I have, and I have taken my children, but we also live a sparsely populated rural area, so our jails are not the same as jails in a large metro area. My sister was in jail, and even though I did not like what she did, she is awesome with my kids and we love her. My sister-in-law was also in jail several times, and I regretably bailed her out once while my in-laws were gone.

Tarina - posted on 05/17/2010




Tanya, noone can answer this question better than your children. They know where he is, and they know it is a grown up time out, the oldest probably has a much deeper understanding than you can imagine. My suggestion is to ask them. It would only be a few minutes, and it will give them a bit of peace knowing he isnt just not coming around for a while. If they are uncomfortable seeing him like that, or if you dont want them to, consider taking a home video or having them make him cards and bringing those to him instead. It will mean as much to your brother without putting your kids in an awkward situation. As far as those saying screw her brother, he made his choice, yeah sure, but hes still a person, and a decent one it sounds like, that the kids love. Its not about whether HE did something right or wrong or what he deserves, this question was about the kids and how to handle it from their side... leave your opinions about people who break the law for a thread that asks for it.

[deleted account]

NOPE! I've been around this block and thought long and hard about it......I've been to jail MANY a time to visit my ex and there's ABSOLUTELY NO WAY IN HELL I would EVER bring my daughter to visit ANYONE in a prison!

Good luck!

Marissa - posted on 05/17/2010




I agree with Louise that getting them to make a birthday card for him and you taking it to him would be a nice idea, but I definitely wouldn't take them to see him. I think it would confuse them and upset them because they wouldn't get to actually see him. Jail is no place for children.

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Mary - posted on 01/19/2013




My sons father is facing 22 yrs for robbing a cops house in syracuse New York. I have sole custody of my son and refuse to bring my 5 yr old son to a state prison. He recently had me served for violation of court order . Which I never did violate but he wants to take me to court to see his son.

Lisamarie81m - posted on 05/17/2010




My brother in-law is in and out of jail. He is in prison now for about 1-2 years. My boys are 6 and 4. they know he is in jail and I would never take them to see him. When he is around he is great with the boys and they love to play and go for bike rides.

So I kind of know where you are coming from. But like I said they wont ever visit him.

I think I over read someone saying you kids can draw him pictures or write letters so that might help with the separation.

Melanie - posted on 05/17/2010




My kids uncle is also in prison and has been for 2 years now. He only saw my son when he was first born. My daughter understands that he's been naughty and done something wrong that's why he's in prison, but i will not let her go and see him. It's not an environment a child should be introduced to. I know if it's their daddy it's hard but he's their uncle and kids pick up an negative things. Maybe this will encourage your brother to not go down that path again. x

Louise - posted on 05/17/2010




After you described what the visit would be like through a telephone line then I would say no. Your children are very young and if you tell them they are going to see there uncle they will expect to see there uncle in the flesh and not on tv. They are not gaining anything from seeing him like that no matter what life lesson you think your giving them. Why not get them to make him a big birthday card with their hands and feet prints on. Something that he can keep in his cell and reflect on what he is missing. You never know it might be the point in to which he decides to go on the straight and narrow. I understand it is difficult for you not seeing your brother but at the end of the day I think taking your kids to prison could do them long term damage when they need not be exposed to it at all!

Joan - posted on 05/17/2010




my brother has been in jail as well. i didn't think it was the place for my kids to be.if you want them to celebrate his birthday while he is being punished why don't you just let them send a they don't forget the good uncle he can be they could exchange mail.i think they need to know he is being punished .

Alicia - posted on 05/17/2010




My brother in law was in a juvenille detention center and I would bring my kids to see him. Now my kids were 2 and a newborn so they didnt understand, and we were placed in a seperate room away from the other juvenilles and visitors.

[deleted account]

Can I point out one more thing that just came to mind after reading ur most recent post.....taking ur children to visit him might confuse them into thinking it's somehow not that bad to be in jail? Afterall, he gets visitors! Maybe by keeping them from him they'll realize the importance of NOT breaking the law as they would never want to miss their families?! Just a thought....

Good luck in whatever you choose to do!

Tanya - posted on 05/17/2010




Thank you all for taking time to give me your suggestions.. I know a few were wondering ages my children are 7, 4, and 1 (If I were to take them it would only be my two oldest children) I am still on the fence but leaning to not taking them. I don't feel bad for him missing his birthdays and like many have suggested he commited a crime and is being punished I agree he is being punished and I take that into consideration (I just know my children miss him and do care for him dearly - that is why I was considering a visit for them). The visits are not with physical visits it is not even through a glass it is done on a TV screen we are never actully in the room with the person at all you pick up a telephone to speak to them. Like I said they know he is in jail they do not know what he did just that he broke the law and they understand when adults break the law they are punished for what they have done and sometimes they have to go to jail. So I am still not forsure what to do I am more on the no side because of the thought of making it real they know but have not seen him there in a jail jumpsuit so I know the seeing him might be a scary thing. So I thank you for your imput.. I apprechate it very much...

JuLeah - posted on 05/14/2010




depends somewhat on the age of the kids, but overall, I'd say yah ..... if they'd like to see him and he'd like to see them, I think it's a great idea. You have explained it well. People are never just one thing. You can love a person and dislike what they do, but we are not our behavior. He is still a good uncle and they still love him.

Carolee - posted on 05/14/2010




It sounds harsh, but...

He chose to break the law. He therefore chose to be incarcerated and miss out on celebrating his birthdays. He also chose to miss out on seeing his family with that one choice to break the law. There are VERY few exceptions to this for me... but that's me.

[deleted account]

Please dont!!!!

You children love your brother and they have a good relationship with him. If they see him in jail, they might not look at him the same when he gets out.

As adults we know that many people go to jail, and not all are horrible people. To children, when they think of a prisoner they picture a very bad don't want your children to actually see him locked up there. Even though they know where he is, seeing it might make it more real to them.

Also if I were locked up I would feel VERY ashamed if my nephew came and saw me like that. I would be really embarrassed.

Tracy - posted on 05/14/2010




Hell no. Period. Prison/jail is punishment for HIM so why take your kids? Not only will it be terrifying for them, it's not an environment that's appropriate for children to be in, period.

Betty - posted on 05/14/2010




I don't think they should go. Just have them make him cards that tell him they love and miss him. You can go and see him on your own and maybe take pictures of him with the cards to show your kids that he got them and they made him happy. Seeing their dear uncle in jail is a cold lesson they should not have to learn.

Lindsey - posted on 05/14/2010




Personally I would say no. Jail is no place for the kids. Don't hurt them that way, it isn't about him anymore. When he chose to break the law he chose to turn his back on his family. My dad was in and out of prison my whole life and was locked up for 9 years this last time. As a child seeing someone you love in jail is hard and hurtful.

Rebecca - posted on 05/14/2010




I'm with Jenn on this. I personally don't feel pitty that he missed his last 3 birthday's. He made the choices he made and he had to pay the consequence for those choices. I would never take my kids to even see their father if he was in jail let alone my brother. I'm sure he is a great uncle to your kids, but by opening them to that environment and not knowing how long he will be there and what not, it might also tarnish the views the kids have of him. How old are your kids? I think it would be very confusing to them especially because you said they don't understand why he's there in the first place so i assume they are a bit younger. Let them have the memories in their minds of what a great uncle he has been and when he gets out let them renew the memories with more good ones.
Good luck

Theresa - posted on 05/14/2010




I do foster care and I know that Social Services won't let a child visit a parent in jail unless there can be physical contact. Children don't understand why a visit has to be through a glass window. So I would say if can't sit together in the same room and the kids hug uncle, etc then definately not. If they are contact visits then I think it's up to you. I personally don't think I would want my children to experience what jail is like. Your children are learning enough of a lesson by just knowing that he will miss out on lots of holidays and family events because he will be in jail for so long. In the end they are your children and you know them best, so it's up to you.

We had a 3 year old foster daughter whose mom went to prision. I explained it to her that her mom did something naughty and had to have a timeout. She understood the concept of her breaking a rule and having to have a timeout in her room, so explaining it that way helped her understand why her mom was in jail. Jail is an adult time out. When adults do something that hurts them or someone else then the police have to give them a timeout. During the timeout they have time to think about what they did so that when they get out they can remember not to do those things. That may help them understand better why he's there.

Good luck.

Jenn - posted on 05/14/2010




Personally, my answer would be - not a chance in hell! Also, as for him missing birthdays - sorry but that's his own damn fault for doing whatever it is that he did to get him in jail in the first place. Sorry - maybe that sounds mean - I know he's your brother and you love him.

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