Black Teen and Her Dad Create App to Help Incarcerated Parents Stay In Touch With Their Kids

Jay’Aina “Jay Jay” Patton, a 12-year old teen from New York, has developed the Photo Patch app that helps connect children with their imprisoned parents for free. She created the innovative app with the help of her father, Antoine, who was once in prison himself.

When a parent gets incarcerated, it becomes difficult, or sometimes even impossible, for their children to communicate with them. If it’s not possible to do in-person visits due to the long distance, some families rely on phone or video calls that mostly cost a significant amount of money. Others would choose to send snail mail but it would take long before it’s received.

Jay Jay experienced those firsthand at the age of 3 when her father was jailed for gun possession. Her father, who taught himself to code using a computer science manual while in prison, started developing a website where children could send letters and photos for their incarcerated parents without any cost when he was released in 2014.

Jay Jay was 10-years old at that time and she has been seeing her father work to print, package, and mail the letters received through the website. That is when she became interested in coding, allowing her to create a stronger bond with her father while he taught her how to code. Two years later, Jay Jay offered to develop a mobile app version for easier and faster access.

In just 3 months, Jay Jay finished creating the app. Since then, it has been downloaded more than 10,000 times and has approximately 1,000 to 2,000 monthly users. With the COVID-19 lockdown, the number of letters received daily through the app increased to almost 100.

“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 told Teen Vogue. “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?”

For more information about Photo Patch, visit

    Your Cart
    Your cart is empty