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Miami federal prison holds father-daughter dance

Pedro Bello and his daughter dance at Miami’s Federal Detention Center. It’s the first such event in a federal prison.
Pedro Bello and his daughter dance at Miami’s Federal Detention Center. It’s the first such event in a federal prison.
Published Nov. 9, 2014

MIAMI — A recent father-daughter dance was held at an unusual location — Miami's Federal Detention Center.

The Miami Herald reported that 13 inmates and 20 daughters gathered in a meeting room that was transformed into a ballroom for two hours. The girls ranged in age from 4 to 18 years old.

Prison officials support the dance as a way to help inmates engage with their families and to prepare them for the eventual release from prison.

The dance last Tuesday was the first such event held in a federal prison. Officials hope to hold similar dances in other federal prisons around the nation.

Among the inmates who joined in the dance was Ernest Williams, who is serving a 41-month drug sentence. He danced with his 9-year-old twin girls and his 13-year-old daughter.

"I haven't seen my girls in months, I could not believe how much they have grown," said Williams, 37, convicted of intent to sell crack cocaine. "I was so happy to see them but so sad that I will not be able to leave with them. I am here instead of being outside with my family because of the choices I made."

"You hope this will be transformational, that this dance gives these fathers something to look forward to," said Walter T. Richardson, the Miami-Dade Police Department chaplain who delivered the keynote address. "We want the focus not so much on what happened, what brought them here, but what kind of future they can have. Their daughters are their future."