Posted: Dec 4, 2012 6:45 PM by Kristen Holloway
Updated: Dec 4, 2012 6:58 PM
A counselor is now on duty in St. Landry Parish to help children cope with having a parent behind bars. It's aimed at breaking the cycle of incarceration.
"I was raised by a single mom here in this area. I grew up in St. Landry Parish, my father at an early age, decided he didn't want to be a dad anymore and left us. It was really difficult growing up that way," Lieutenant Jesse Martin Jr.
Early childhood memories for Detective Jesse Martin involved visiting his father in jail. He says if someone didn't explain to him he could break the cycle, he would never be the man and father he is today.
"I deal with children all the time and I tell them it doesn't matter where you grew up, it doesn't matter what your parents did right or what your parents did wrong, it doesn't matter if you grew up in a good neighborhood or a bad neighborhood, you know the difference between right and wrong. If you make the right decisions your life will be better," said Martin.
Martin pushed for the new program in St.Landry Parish. It's free, one-on-one counseling for any child of an inmate. Berk Veillon is the program's counselor.
"Education is your ticket and expect good things to happen and the other part is learning is the greatest adventure of all. So most of this creates an attitude that no matter what happens to you in your life, you can make it," said Veillon.
Both Martin and Veillon say their goal is to let children know anything is possible.
So far, 11 children are in the program, but counselors say there's room for more. If you or someone you know is interested, contact the Saint Landry Parish Sheriff's Office.