Two Douglas County Jail employees had the same vision: Transform the visiting area into a child-friendly environment. Jackie Notch and Connie Fields worked to make the vision come true.

One of the essences of allowing prison kids to visit their incarcerated parents is to comfort them with the parental love they have innocently been deprived of as the Forgotten Victims of Crime.

Making Douglas County Jail Visits More Child-Friendly

Connie Fields and Jackie Notch share the vision of transforming the visiting area of Douglas County Jail to something more child-friendly. They want to make sure the kids feel comfortable when they visit their parents in jail.

Initially, neither Jackie Notch nor Connie Fields knew they were both on the same mission.

Douglas County Jail’s administrator, Jackie Notch, recently stumbled upon an ongoing survey on inmates with minor children conducted by University of Minnesota. Notch said:

“It was a big project and involved county jails and state prisons.”

Survey: Prison Kids with Incarcerated Parents

He added that inmates from Douglas County also took part in the survey.

Notch said the aim of the state-wide survey was to engage prison administrators and other stakeholders in finding creative ways to support incarcerated parents. Part of the recommendations of the survey included remodeling visiting areas to be more kid-friendly.

The coordinator of the Douglas County Early Childhood Initiative, Connie Fields, also read a recent publication on how families (especially minors) were affected by the incarceration of their parent.

According to findings from a Wilder Research, well over 1.5 million children below the age of 18 have an incarcerated parent at any given time. Fields said the situation was worrisome.

Does this visiting room filled with video visitation phones look kid-friendly to you?

Does this visiting room filled with video visitation phones look kid-friendly to you? Image Source: Echo Press

She started wondering what was wrong. This prompted her to reach out to the Douglas County Jail administrator, Jackie Notch. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Supporting Children with Incarcerated Parents: The Forgotten Victims of Crime

With help from other community partnerships, they both collaborated in helping to transform Douglas County Jail visiting area into a kid-friendly environment. They also lend support to incarcerated parents and their kids in other ways.

Field thankfully acknowledged that the board members of the Early Childhood Initiative unanimously voted in support of the project.

According to the University of Minnesota survey, about half of the 75-80 inmates currently serving sentences at the Douglas County Jail are parents.

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Jackie Notch confirmed that they have three days weekly scheduled for jail visitation. On each visiting day, at least one inmate with kids gets visits in the facility.

Field says she is pleased that the prisoners appreciate the gesture. She believes it will significantly improve the quality of time incarcerated parents and their children spend together.