The Lorain Correctional Institution, a state prison in Grafton, held its first ever “Fatherhood Conference” this weekend.
The goal was to teach the 250 men who are both inmates and fathers the best way to develop their children and be role models, both from inside the prison walls and once they are released.
The conference began Friday evening with a panel of speakers — dads who had been behind bars themselves. On Saturday, they held various workshops on parenting.
The conference ended Sunday afternoon, with a father-daughter dance.
“It’s a blessing,” said John Hugley, who is in the middle of serving a 15-year sentence. “Two years ago I actually missed the father-daughter dance that my daughters had at their school. My father had to step in my place so thank God I have the opportunity to do that with them.”
Hugley’s daughters, ages 9 and 11, visit him often, but this was the first time they got to dance together. He also has a 16-year-old son. Hugley has spent the last seven years in prison, hoping to have early-release in 2019.
“Definitely ready to get home and be restored with my family,” he said.
Another father of three, Howard Boyd, said the fatherhood conference helped him realize where he went wrong.
“You see, I was a friend out there, I wasn’t a parent,” Boyd said. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to go back out there and have another chance. That’s the biggest thing I want to do is be a father.”
Boyd has 101 days left to serve on his sentence.
The fatherhood conference was organized with Passages, Inc., and was so successful, prison officials are already planning the next one.