Virginia Jail Gives Daughters Of Inmates The Most Adorable Father-Daughter Dance Ever

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shutterstock_15606838While reading this story about the Richmond County Jail in Virginia hosting a dance for inmates and their daughters, my initial thought was, do these men really deserve to get to spend an evening dancing and having fun? Then I took one look at the photo gallery and realized it’s not about the inmates but about the little girls who have to suffer everyday for crimes that they didn’t commit.

The father-daughter dance took place in the jail’s multi-purpose room which was decorated for the occasion. The inmates were able to go from wearing a jump suit to a suit and tie before greeting their daughters who were eagerly waiting in their party dresses.  I was surprised that a jail would even allow something like this to take place but jail officials say that they see the dance having a positive effect on the inmates.

“People may think it’s crazy to have this in a jail,” says [Richmond City Sheriff C.T. Woody], 67, a veteran homicide detective. “But it builds respect. You wouldn’t believe what it does for these men’s confidence to dress them up. So this dance can have a ripple effect.”

The dance is not something that was just thrown together on a whim.The inmates who attend must be non-violent offenders who are interviewed by jail officials and have their criminal histories reviewed. The girls’ mothers also must give permission.

The idea was born when a girl said she felt left out because her father was locked up, said Angela Patton, head of Camp Diva, a Richmond nonprofit that works to empower African American girls.

We thought, ‘These girls need their fathers, too,’ ” said Patton, who hopes to replicate the dance in the Washington area. “But we also thought, ‘Let’s not just throw the girls and the dads together in the jail. Let’s prepare everyone. This is not just some dance that’s about punch and cookies.'”

When I was in high school my school hosted a father-daughter dance.  My friends and I would dress up and our dads bought us corsages. We walked in the school gym and had our pictures taken before dancing with our dads for a few hours. It was very sweet and I regret only going my freshman year, before I became a too-cool-for-school-dances-with-Dad teenager.

The dance at the Richmond County Jail may be very different than the one I attended but the idea is the same — girls being able to bond with their dad. As an added bonus for these girls, they finally have a memory of their father that won’t involve talking to him through a glass window.

(photo: Orange Line Media / Shutterstock)