THEY’RE the forgotten victims of crime – the little ones lying in bed wondering why mummy is in ”hospital” and can’t read them a bedtime story.Now a pioneering program in one Sydney jail will bring the voices of female inmates into the bedrooms of their children, many of whom are placed in care during the length of their mother’s stay behind bars.Prisoners at the Emu Plains Correctional Centre are being allowed to record stories on CDs and have them delivered to their children as a way to maintain the bond between mother and child.NSW Correctional Services Minister Phil Costa has given his backing to take the Story Time Program statewide.Sharlene, a 22-year-old Aboriginal inmate from Moree, said she had chosen How the Kangaroos got their Tails to send to her five-year-old daughter Heather.”It’s a book that I read on Reconciliation Day when I was younger so it’s special to me and I hope it’s going to be special for her,” said Sharlene, who has completed three months of an eight-month sentence, but could be home in five weeks. ”It’s been really hard knowing that every day she’s wondering where I am. It helps to know that she’ll be able to hear my voice.”Another inmate, Elizabeth, has spent 11 months away from her two boys, four and five, who are being cared for by their father.She said: ”It’s an awesome thing to do for the kids because when they feel like they’re missing me they can hear that I’m still there. I try to read the books really calmly to help them get to sleep.”Female prisoners said they told their young children that they were in hospital rather than jail.With the help of four publishers, children are sent a book with the CD of their mother’s voice. The CDs have a picture of their mother.Mr Costa said: ”This program is the first of its kind in NSW and allows mothers to share a bedtime story with their children and build their literacy skills at the same time.”As a parent I know how important bedtime stories are to nurturing your child. This program ensures mothers do not lose the opportunity to read to their children at night while they are incarcerated.”
Nanjing Night Net