Holiday blues – Christmas can be rough for the families of inmates

Isiah Acy reads a Christmas card his father sent to his mother. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

Like most children, Isaiah Acy, 6, has a pretty good idea what he’ll be getting on Christmas morning.

He and his brothers, Kyle, 3, and Jayden, 5, have spent the last week poking holes through all the packages under the tree. When that wasn’t possible, a good shake usually did the trick.

But this year one thing is different in the Acy household. Their father, Desmar Acy, is in jail this Christmas eve, and the family will be celebrating the holidays without him.

“I just told him we can’t do this forever,” his wife Felicia Acy said. “You’ve got to teach your children that this isn’t the life you want to live.”

Desmar Acy was picked up on charges of distribution of methamphetamine and driving with a suspended license in September, family members said, and was soon moved to Dickens County Correctional in Spur, Texas.

Since then, the family has had little contact with him and said he is still waiting for his court date. His family said he has yet to enter a plea on the charges.

Felicia Acy said Christmas will be tough, but not as bad as Thanksgiving.

“I think Thanksgiving was harder for the kids, because it was the first holiday without him,” she said.

She said her family sat around the table at Thanksgiving, and talked about what they were thankful for.

“My youngest, Kyle, he first answered that he wasn’t thankful because he wanted his dad home,” she said. “But then he said he was thankful because he had a dad.”

Even though the Acys are celebrating Christmas without the father, their extended family has pitched in to help with Christmas presents, meals and finances.

“I think I’m really lucky, because I do have a lot of support,” Felicia Acy said.

Even though Desmar Acy has had his bouts with the law before, this is the first Christmas he’ll be away from his family, his wife said. She is only one semester away from receiving her registered nursing certificate, and this, combined with her husband’s incarceration, has made it difficult to keep up with all the bills.

However, she said she feels lucky to have the family support when so many others don’t.

“My heart goes out to them,” she said graciously.

Curry County Adult Detention Center Administrator Don Burdine said the prisoners get a special meal around Christmas time. However, no organized Christmas celebration will occur in the jail.

“Jail’s just not conditioned to that sort of thing,” he said. “You have to segregate the population according to their charges and their gang affiliations, so if you try to have a group celebration you take the risk of opposing factions getting together … and that opens the county up to liability.”

He said in-jail celebrations have caused problems in the past, so they just aren’t taking the chance.