The children of hundreds of state prison offenders may have had a brighter holiday season thanks to the generosity of employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
TDCJ employees across the state donated 799 individual toys for distribution to 266 children in the Dallas area by the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of North Texas. Each child, ranging in age from infant to 18 years old, has at least one parent who is currently incarcerated.
The toy drive, a partnership between TDCJ and BBBS of North Texas, is one of many TDCJ efforts to support the Amachi Texas program, a unique child-mentoring program that provides the children of inmates with mentors. TDCJ has been a strong supporter of initiatives to benefit the children of inmates since 2004 when, at the direction of Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Christina Melton Crain, the agency first introduced the Giving Offenders’ Kids Incentive and Direction to Succeed (GO KIDS) program.
“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is committed to implementing programs that help strengthen the bond between children and their incarcerated parents,” Crain said. “Through GO KIDS and Amachi Texas, we are able to reach one of the most at-risk populations in our society.”
Crain cited a study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice that found that the children of offenders have a 70 percent greater likelihood of becoming involved in the criminal justice system themselves.
“We want to break that cycle,” Crain said. “I am so proud of the support our agency employees have given to Amachi Texas, and to this holiday toy drive. Their generosity helps the children of offenders on a statewide level.”
TDCJ employees in the following areas donated the toys: administrative employees in TDCJ’s Huntsville and Austin headquarters, employees of the Dallas-area parole offices and the administration and unit staff in TDCJ’s Region II, which is based in Tennessee Colony.