BISMARCK, N.D. - Christmas is a time for family to come together no matter how far apart they are. For inmates at the State Penitentiary, it's never been possible to have that kind of celebration - until now.
This year, a select group of inmates will be home for the holidays thanks to technology and a new program from the North Dakota Department of Corrections.
This prisoner's dream of being with his family for Christmas came true this year thanks to an audiobook he created while serving time.
This year, the Department of Corrections launched a program for convicts who wanted to reach out and touch their families. Fourteen prisoners were recorded reading children's books that were converted to DVDs and given to their kids.
"I was really grateful that I was able to give something to my daughter since me not being there for Christmas is pretty upsetting," says Jacob, inmate.
These gifts could possibly be the best presents four-year-old Ryan and one-year-old Octavia receive this Christmas.
"Hopefully just being able to hear his voice while he's reading something, it will make them think that he's here," says Shelby Saunders, mother.
Stories influence children in different ways, but these simple books will touch the lives of many families in a way that's never been possible before.
During the production of the recordings, some of the prisoners became emotional because they could finally connect with their kids.
"Seeing them cry and talk to their kids about how much they miss them and how much they can't wait to see them again, it definitely struck a few heart strings," says Rebecca Deierling, GED Instructor.
Deierling organized the project, and says anyone who was involved needed to remain in good standing and do book reports. Deierling says it improved the behavior and morale of those who participated, and even more prisoners want to read next year.
Thanks to these audiobooks, some prisoners will be home for Christmas, even if only on a laptop screen.