DUPAGE COUNTY - DuPage County Jail inmates are turning the page toward a tighter bond with their children. They are taking advantage of a special program by reading to their kids virtually.
When a parent goes to jail, it is not only difficult for them, it can be excruciating for kids. But this program keeps kids connected and learning.
"My son was born in April, and I never actually got to meet him," said Gerardo Luna. "I get to read a book and he gets to be able to hear my voice and I also read a book to my niece because she's like my little princess, you know, so."
DuPage County inmate Gerardo Luna and his niece Neveah were inseparable.
"Especially right now with COVID and us not being able to go visit him, being able to at least hear his voice in the recordings is amazing," Reed said.
Luna is serving a year and a half sentence at the DuPage County Jail for aggravated battery with a firearm. It is not the way he wanted his story to go.
Fifty-one inmates at the jail participate in the storybook program. They pick out a book and then an audio recording is given to their family.
"I love you guys so much. I miss you guys. I hope you guys receive this book soon," Luna could be heard saying in a recording.
The children get to keep the book.
"It's also been helping her with wanting to read more because now that her uncle is sending her books, she wants to read a little bit more because her uncle is doing it," said Irma Luna, Gerardo’s sister.
"You want your family to know that you're working to succeed, that you’re working to be better, and that this time when you get out that you're going to be able to provide for your family," said Sheriff James Mendrick.
"I just hope my kids they see that daddy's still here, and daddy's still loves them, and I tell them every time, daddy's just a man who made a mistake, I'm not a bad man, you know, so," Luna said.
Books are donated from a local program called SCARCE, that upcycles donated books and gifts them to the jail.