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Viral video of girl meeting her formerly incarcerated dad sparks dialog about U.S. prison system

The father surprised his daughter by picking her up from school on his first day out of prison. It was an emotional moment.

Viral video of girl meeting her formerly incarcerated dad sparks dialog about U.S. prison system
Image Source: EastSideLemonFB / Twitter

The prison system in the United States is fraught with problems that typically affect those already most marginalized. From separating families to increasing unnecessary police presence, the prison industrial complex is responsible for depriving communities, particularly communities of color. A video posted to Twitter has thus sparked a conversation about ending mass incarceration. In the video, a young girl meets her formerly incarcerated father for the first time. Posted by Twitter user EastSideLemonFB, the girl's uncle, the clip has quickly gone viral, with many weighing in on how heartbreaking it is. It has gained over 34,000 retweets and almost 200,000 likes since it was initially uploaded online earlier this month, reports.


Uncle Bob Lemon posted, "Bro been gone since before my niece was one and he surprised her by picking her up from school on his first day out." The father appears at his daughter's school to pick her up at the end of the day. The little girl is shocked and clearly happy to see her dad, who hugs her tight after she runs into his arms. However, she begins crying and it is truly heartbreaking. Evidently, a lot of work went into ensuring the two were able to maintain their relationship, as one Twitter user pointed out. "Wait, since before she [was a] year old and she knows his face," they wrote. "Wow, that’s some strong ties and effort to keep him relevant to her life on the outside."


Others highlighted just how emotional the scene was. One user commented, "And he picked her up, bouncing her up and down, just like she was still his one-year-old baby girl. I bet he held on to that moment the whole time he was away. I'm crying too." Another added, "Feels like to me that her initial smile and wide eyes [are] the celebration of moments to come. Then her sobs are the trauma of what's been; her whole life's pain bubbling up into a bittersweet moment. Her young life will forever be divided into the 'before' and 'after he came home.'"


Even the little girl's teacher replied to the tweet. "Thank you for posting this," she stated. "[She] was one of my students when I was living and teaching in the South Bronx! I can’t stop replaying this. I wish I could give her a hug and witness her happiness in person! We shared many conversations and tears about the pain she carried. No more!" Others shared their own experiences with incarceration. One user explained, "This was me in like second grade. I didn't even know who the man standing next to my mom was. So I just looked politely until my mom told me it was my dad. He showed me the best two years of my life after that, until he unexpectedly died of a heart attack."


"Same for me," another added. "My dad was gone for five or six years when I was little. Came back when I was around nine. They told me he was in the hospital. I get that feeling. I’m crying for that little girl and her family. I hope he’s able to be there for her moving forward like my dad was." Unfortunately, some blamed the father for ending up in prison in the first place. In response, one user noted: "You're assuming that the system was justified in taking him away in the first place, and I don't think the system has earned the benefit of the doubt." As per the ACLU, one out of every three Black men in the U.S. can expect to enter the prison system in his lifetime compared to just one in 17 white men. Evidently, it is time to rethink how the country manufactures crime.


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