Visiting a loved one behind bars can be hard on children.
“It can be an intimidating and scary place and we understand that,” says Hopkins County Jailer, Mike Lewis.
This aspect of jail is often forgotten which is why this year’s Hopkins County’s leadership class added a play area to the Hopkins County Jail which kids can use while waiting to visit an incarcerated loved one.
“Jason Whicker, which is actually an employee at Hopkins County Jail, thought about bringing something to the jail that would benefit the kids who otherwise are in a pretty dim situation,” says Director of Customer Service and Public Relations, Skylar Phaup.
Two inmates helped build this play area. Hopkins County inmate, Anthony Simms, says he understands the importance of creating a kid-friendly environment since he is a father himself.
“It’s a good thing they’ve got going on here,” says Simms. “It’ll give the families time to visit their loved ones and they won’t have to chase the kids around.”
Before this play area was added, some kids were forced to wait for over an hour without having anything to keep them occupied.
“You can’t punish a kid based on situations that they are put in that are out of their control,” says Phaup.
The kids were the motivation behind this project and it’s already paying off.
“It was open last Saturday for visitation and we had 15 to 20 kids that were out here already playing,” says Phaup.
“They love it. They have fun,” says Simms.
Many Kentucky inmates are behind bars longer than most due to poverty. In 2016 Kentuck had about 37,000 low to moderate risk offenders held in county jails because they could not post bail.