A boy and his father quietly sit in the prison courtyard. Every week his father has come to visit him for the past 10 weeks. His older sister is married and lives with her own family. His mother recently passed away.
My wife was sick and I was always with my wife, a lot of time so now I have him and I have to hold on to him, his father says.
But he didn’t need to be in pretrial detention, he could have been eligible for bail.
In order to have bail granted, the defendant must prove he is eligible. This includes providing proof of residence, birth certificate, proof of attending school, and pay the bail. Some kids have had bail denied because they could not accurately state their address. In this family’s case, they were living in his grandmother’s house, the mother of his deceased mother. His father’s name was not on the title and therefore had bail denied. Weeks later, once they provided proof of residence on appeal, bail was again denied as their original petition did not include evidence that he was going to study while on release. He had dropped out of school when his mother was sick and hadn’t returned. Kids who spend even short periods of time in detention are twice as likely to drop out of school.
How does he feel about visiting day?
Well, when its visiting day, happy because I am going to see my dad. He tells me everything that is going on outside. Like how my sister is doing, how he is doing (pointing to his dad), that my grandma and cousins say ‘hi’, who he has talked to or seen.
And his father?
I worry about how he is here inside, what will happen. I worry about the hearings, what is going to happen. These are my worries.