Program helps Cook County Jail inmates reconnect with their children

An eight-week program at the Cook County Jail has helped 1,200 incarcerated fathers take up the responsibility of a lifetime of being a better dad.

Inside the barbed wire, incarcerated Cook County fathers are opening up about the challenges of being a father, behind bars.

"My daughter, I haven't seen her in 18 months so that was like a joy to me,” said Anthony Woodridge, Cook County inmate. “When I looked into her eyes, it made me see the hurt and it made me want to be there even more."

Fatherhood in Action is a federally-funded program facilitated by the Salvation Army.  

"I didn't have my father around, he left when I was 2, came back when I was 14, but we really didn't talk or engage in any activities,” said Courtney Henderson, Cook County inmate.

"We teach 16 different lessons that teachers the fathers to kind of look back over their life and consider some very significant milestones, whether they're positive or negative, what relationships did I have in my life that contributed to these particular events?” said Derrick White, Fatherhood in Action Program Manager.

"It helped me find who I was on the inside and it helped me to better [the] relationship with the mother of my children and my children so with the things I learned in the class, I was able to go out there and be a father to my children,” said Woodridge. 

The inmates selected to participate in the program are serving anywhere from six months to three years.