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Children of inmates reunite with dads on Father's Day

The Mecklenburg County Detention Center was closed for in-person visits for a year during the pandemic. Sheriff Garry McFadden allowed visitors for Father's Day.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden reopened in-person visitations at the detention center in Charlotte for Father's Day weekend. Some families haven't seen incarcerated loved ones in person in a year due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," said Crystal Primus, who brought her 3-year-old daughter to visit her dad, "It's a terrible feeling."

For the past year, Primus has been in touch with her child's father through video calls but says sometimes the connection is faulty or computers shut down. She also says it's hard to make a toddler focus on a video screen. 

"She enjoyed seeing her dad like that.  She wanted a personal visit," said Primus of the glass partition separating mom and daughter from dad, "But it's better than what she [normally] gets."

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Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden opened the facility to visitors for the first time since the pandemic.  

Janet Parker, a public information manager for the sheriff's office, said that at the moment, the detention center is free of COVID-19. 

"We have taken every precaution possible to make sure that we keep COVID out of our detention center," said Parker, "And so we thought what better weekend than Father's Day weekend to reconnect families in a time like this." 

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Since Friday, 400 visitation appointments were booked.  However, in-person visits aren't back for good yet. Parker says the Sheriff's Office is working with health officials to see when to fully reopen for in-person visitations. 

"While that person is in our custody, we still want them to have that connection [with their children] so that when they do leave our facility, it's still there," said Parker. 

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