LONGMONT — During his six-month stint as a prison inmate in upstate Vermont, Mark Garrigan taped himself reading children’s books and mailed those cassettes to his preschool-aged son to stay in touch.
Yet he wrestled mightily with an overwhelmingly sad sense of losing precious time with his only child and tarnishing his legacy as a father.
“But in prison, you don’t want to reveal feelings,” said Garrigan, 47. “So I would go into my jail cell and cry like a baby when I could be there alone.”
In October, Garrigan relocated from New Hampshire to Longmont to be closer to the boy, now 10, who lives with Garrigan’s ex-wife in a neighboring county.
In December, the father and son spent their first Christmas together in four years.
“There are days I felt like giving up,” he said. “I know two fathers who just let their kids go because it was too hard. … Some (ex-offenders) feel like, how could their child ever love them? … ‘Prison is a bad person’s place, and (Dad) has been a bad man.’ They’ve set the worst example by going to prison. … There’s a lot of shame. There’s a lot of self-doubt.”
Despite the barriers to fatherhood related to bars, divorce or distance, the federal government in 2006 recognized the importance of a man’s role in his child’s life by awarding a $10 million grant over five years to Colorado to fund the Promoting Responsible Fatherhood initiative