I'm thinking of a little four-year-old girl early on this Mother's Day morning, as I sip my first cuppa. Our board member Judy VanderArk was making a prison visit at the women's facility in Ypsilanti Friday. She saw this little girl all dressed up, sitting with her grandmother in the waiting room. Judy complimented her on her pretty outfit. The child explained that she was going to visit her mommy...it was her mom's birthday. We see so many experiences like this in prison, and each one can quickly move a person to tears.
I'm thinking of that little girl today, because her mother will not be with her on Mother's Day.
I'd like to ask, today, that we take a moment to remember mothers behind bars.
Out of curiosity, I contacted our local Sheriff, Gary Rosema, to find out how many mothers might be in the Ottawa County Jail. Well, right here in our lily white county that we think is such an exemplary place to live, there are 41 women in jail. 26 of them are mothers. And Gary says this means that 62 children will not be with their mothers for this special day.
In Muskegon today an organization called LETTERS R BETTER is staging a solidarity demonstration outside the County Jail. They just want to not only honor the mothers in jail, but express solidarity with one another.
I haven't found specific figures on the number of mothers behind bars in the U.S., but one report claimed that there are 85,000 mothers incarcerated nationally.
That's a lot of moms who won't get a little hand-made card with the words WORLD'S BEST MOM scrawled in crayon today.
My God be near this special category of mothers today.