In all, more than 530 individual toys were collected by TDCJ employees and donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of North Texas for distribution to more than 150 children under the age of 18 who have at least one imprisoned parent. The collaborative toy drive between TDCJ and BBBS of North Texas complements the Amachi Texas program, a unique child mentoring program that provides children of offenders with mentors. TDCJ has staunchly supported initiatives to benefit the children of offenders under the leadership of Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Christina Melton Crain, who in 2004 introduced the Giving Offenders’ Kids Incentive and Direction to Succeed (GO KIDS) initiative to the Agency.
“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been committed for some time to implementing programs that serve to strengthen the bond between children and their offender parents,” said Crain.
“Through GO KIDS and Amachi Texas, we have been able to reach one of the most at-risk populations in our society, particularly when findings by the U.S. Bureau of Justice indicate that the children of offenders have a 70 % greater likelihood of becoming involved in the criminal justice system themselves. We want to break that cycle.”
Employees throughout TDCJ contributed to the toy drive this year - the Correctional Institutional Division Region II Office in Tennessee Colony collected 237 toys, the parole offices in Dallas donated 175 toys, and the Austin and Huntsville administrative offices gathered 122 toys.
“I am so proud of the overwhelming support our Agency employees have given to Amachi Texas and to this holiday drive,” Crain said. “For many years, various prison units have collected toys and gifts to benefit charities within their local communities. This year, they also are helping the children of offenders on a statewide level.”