When one family member becomes incarcerated, the entire family suffers the collateral consequences. Of them all, exorbitant prices for limited communication and the inability to make in-person visits take one of the worse tolls. Due to their personal experience with the unjust and oppressive prison system, teen-aged Jay’Aina “Jay Jay” Patton and her father Antoine, an ex-prisoner, developed Photo Patch, a program and mobile app that connects imprisoned parents to their children.
According to Teen Vogue, Antoine, who learned to code in prison, was released in 2014 and built Photo Patch Foundation, a website where kids could write letters and upload photos without unreasonable charges. Later, to avoid sending the materials through snail mail, Jay Jay developed a mobile app version for easier, faster access.
“Everybody’s on their phone. It’s way easier for them to take a picture and type a letter right there,” she told Teen Vogue. “My dad said I should try it.”
Since the app’s launch, Photo Patch has gained between 1,000 and 2,000 users and has been downloaded over 10,000 times. Currently, with correctional facilities on lockdown due to the global health crisis, 75 to 100 communications are sent daily.
“No matter where the child or parent is, they should always have a bond, a connection, and be able to talk to each other,” Jay Jay said. “We know that being able to talk to each other helped our bond a lot. So why not give that same thing for [other] kids and parents?”