On a foggy Sunday morning before Memorial Day, a mix of mostly women and children board a bus traveling about 60 miles to Laurel Highlands, visiting Somerset and Laurel Highlands State Correctional institutions to see an incarcerated loved one.
On any given day, people travel between 60 to 250 miles to one of the 22 different Pennsylvania state correctional facilities.
“I do it because I care for and love my uncle,” explained Monet Miller, a recent graduate of Point Park University. “I wanted to share my good news with him.”
Miller and her mother have been traveling there most of her 33 years of life – to see Miller’s uncle.
For nearly 30 years, Families Outside has been providing transportation services to state correctional institutions and assisting family members to develop the coping skills necessary to deal with the pain of having a loved one in the correctional system. Families Outside is part of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania.
“Our goal is to help families stay together even when they are apart,” said Candace Chapman, coordinator of the program. “Our belief is that family members, especially children, need continued contact with their parents…even if they are incarcerated. When parents go to prison, children and families hurt.”