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March 19, 2008 ­ KETV-7 News (NE)

Tale Of Dying Girl's Imprisoned Dad Moves Viewers

Girl's Dying Wish Denied; Imprisoned Father Not Coming Home

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Original story with video

Jayci Yaeger wants her father to be at her bedside, but that isn't likely to happen since Jason Yaeger is in a federal prison in Yankton, S.D.

Vonda Yaeger is pleading with the warden for compassion to grant her daughter's wish.

"She wants her dad. She goes to her room crying because she wants her dad," Yaeger said.

Jason Yaeger was convicted of methamphetamine charges nearly five years ago and is scheduled to be released next year.

"We've never asked them to release him early. Never asked them to change anything. We've asked them to just give him some time to be here," Vonda Yaeger said.

Several KETV NewsWatch 7 viewers said they've e-mailed the warden themselves after reading the story. Kevin Burton said he e-mailed a link of KETV's story to the warden, along with a note that said in part: "I feel heartbroken for this little girl. It sounds like a drug charge, and not a more serious crime. As a father of a young daughter myself, I hope that there is more to this story. I would hope in cases such as this some compassion can be shown and reasonable accommodations taken that safeguard the public, honor the judiciary, but still let this little girl see her father while she is still living."

Viewer Sandie Yeaman said she called South Dakota's governor's office, "pleading for them to allow Jayci's father to be at her bedside. I urge all Nebraskans to call Gov. Rounds office and plead for the dying wishes of this little girl and her family."

Another viewer suggested starting a nationwide petition to get Jason Yaeger to his daughter before she dies.

Jayci Yaeger has been allowed three escorted visits with her father, but each trip lasts only a couple of hours and costs the family hundreds of dollars. Requests for longer furloughs have been denied.

"They say it doesn't constitute an extraordinary circumstance," Vonda Yaeger said.

A representative of the Yankton facility would not respond to specific questions about the situation.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons web site states its policy -- that furloughs can be allowed for a family crisis and that decision is left to the warden.

"We've asked them numerous times, 'What is an extraordinary circumstance?'" said Vonda Yaeger. "They danced around it. They don't give you a direct answer."

Jayci still gets calls when her father can manage.

"He talks to her. We put the phone to her ear and she cries," Vonda Yaeger said.

She said there have been several times she didn't think Jayci would make it through the night, but she somehow keeps fighting.

"I feel she's hanging on for her dad," Vonda Yaeger said.

The family said that what makes the situation even more difficult is that Jason Yaeger is scheduled to be transferred to a half-way house in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in August. That would make it possible to visit Jayci, but her mother said it will probably be too late.

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