Last week, I posted a piece about speaking at a graduation ceremony inside Sing Sing prison in New York. I was moved by quite a few comments to the piece, so I thought I'd share some of them for those who may not have read them.
I think that seminary in prison is a good idea. I worked in a prison for 2-1/2 years, and the men need something to motivate them when they get out. Prison is not reality -- has nothing to do with the real world. If they have something to "hang on to" when they are released, especially something spiritual, it might help. The ministry might also give them a goal for when they are released. Transitional housing, and transitional programs to help offenders transition from prison to reality, are sorely needed. May I say God bless them, one and all. (Posted by: Anita)
Thank you for reminding us of the wonderful potential of those most downtrodden in our society. As an elementary teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools I saw with great sadness these children who never had a chance. I am sorry they had to go through those years of dispair and violence and imprisonment. But I am so thankful that someone gave them the opportunity to learn and grow and become a blessing to others. They will do it in ways I never could! Praise the Lord! (Posted by: Jean Eittreim)
Thank you so much for your article bringing that wonderful program at Sing Sing to public attention. I am one of dozens of people in Kentucky working to expand jail and prison ministry to be a channel of hope while they are incarcerated and to help "to-be ex-offenders" see desirable options for their lives upon release. Sing Sing's Seminary gives one more model to hold up. (Posted by: Sr. Dorothy Schuette)
I also was really moved by this post. I found myself sobbing in my office this a.m. -- at work, no less. My daughter is incarcerated in Beaumont, Texas. She is a Christian who, like the rest of us, made some serious mistakes. I am so thankful that Jesus loves and forgives her -- and all of us. (Posted by: Betty Ann)
So pleased to hear that those who go inside to minister to the incarcerated come out more blessed than they! Mr. Wallis, as the wife of one with whom you spoke that evening at Sing Sing, as well as a friend of Darren's, thank you. To have one come in with the respect and appreciation for the hard work these men have put forth, and with the faith you brought with you that night, changes the "inmate" to a human. The opportunity for college education is transforming for these men. To have their convictions to go forth bringing healing to the society they'd once harmed taken seriously, and to be given the open door and tools their education provides to do so, is an unimaginable blessing. Couple this with a God encounter and the recidivism rate is near zero! Just FYI, there is a KAIROS OUTSIDE which ministers to the female relatives of the incarcerated, addressing the special emotional and spiritual needs of those who have an incarcerated loved one. I have been involved in the Mid-Hudson chapter for over three years and have seen miracles there also. Check out the Web site! (Posted by: Lauren Young)
In so many prisons throughout this country education departments and college providers are working to provide opportunities for people who are incarcerated. They are the unsung heroes whose real satisfaction comes from such seeing such graduation ceremonies. There is nothing more powerful than seeing a person get a GED and then a college education in prison. Your story was very powerful Thanks, Jim, for reminding me that God can always do something good with any situation. Praise God for those who have this opportunity and those who are blessed to serve in this way. (Posted by: Lin Smallwood)