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Chicago Bus Trips Reunite Kids With Their Incarcerated Mothers

Three Chicago nonprofits organize a bus trip to bring together kids and their incarcerated mothers, calling it the Reunification Ride, WBEZ reports. The program offers free transportation to Logan Correctional Center about once a month. The bus makes the round trip in one day: The families leave early in the morning, visit the prison for about four hours, then head back to Chicago by evening. The trips cost $3,000 to $3,500 each, which covers the bus rental, insurance and food. Reunification Rides are almost entirely crowdfunded and staffed by volunteers. Aurora Sanchez, who was on the bus for a trip this month, was giddy with excitement to see her mom, Margaret DeFrancisco, who is incarcerated at Logan.

“My mom had to go away ...before I turned 1,” Sanchez said. “I’m 20 years old. My mom’s been in prison for 20 years now. It’s just crazy to think about. And, like, she’s never seen me blow out my candles or anything like that.” The trips are organized by a trio of groups: the Women’s Justice Institute, Nehemiah Trinity Rising and Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, with support from Ascend Justice, a local domestic violence legal defense group. When the bus finally arrives at the prison after everyone goes through a security screening, the kids streamed into a prison gymnasium with screeches and hugs for their moms. With a holiday theme, as the prison visit drew to a close, Sanchez and her mom focused on decorating a gingerbread house. “I’m happy,” Sanchez said. “I’ve never made a gingerbread house with my mom, so this is cool.”


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