Charles Schaeffer was just days away from his release from Colorado’s highest security prison when he spoke about the legacy he inherited from a convict father and the one he hopes to leave for a 4-year-old stepdaughter.
“I love her with a full heart. I don’t want my daughter to be in here,” Schaeffer, a 27-year-old chronic thief, told five fellow inmates enrolled in a parenting class at Colorado State Penitentiary, about 5 miles east of Cañon City.
While a correctional officer watched outside a windowed, metal door, Schaeffer and the other men — all wearing tan prison jumpsuits — sat facing one another at tables inside a tiny classroom where instructor Tracy Swindler led the fourth of six lessons in the prison’s “Parents on a Mission” program.
The program is being taught in prisons across the Colorado Department of Corrections system in “an attempt to break the cycle of criminality of families,” said state DOC executive director Rick Raemisch.