Local News

MATCH Program Gives Imprisoned Mothers, Children A Second Chance To Bond

Posted May 22, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— When a woman goes to prison, she often leaves behind children who will grow up while she is behind bars. A program at theNorth Carolina Correctional Institution for Womenis giving children and their mothers a second chance.

When Donna Terrell was sentenced to 16 years in prison, she thought she would never be able to bond with her son, Kahil.

"When I first came into this institution, I was hopeless," Terrell says. "My son was five months old. I didn't see a future for him and I to have a relationship."

Then Terrell found out about The Mothers and Their Children or MATCH Program. Female inmates spend one-on-one time with their children in a homelike setting. They play together and even share a meal prepared by Mom.

"If I had to sum it up in one word, it's a blessing," Terrell says. "I never thought this could happen and he just said, 'Mom, Mom.' I didn't think he would know me as Mom."

Social workers say the MATCH Program gives parents the tools to be good role models.

"I think this is probably one of the best programs we have in this state," says social work supervisor Pat Vincitorio. "The goal is to really break the cycle of the children following their moms into prison."

Inmates must apply for the program and take 30 hours of parenting classes.

In order to stay in the program, participants must not get into any trouble while behind bars.

Currently, 55 women are participating in the program.