Prisoners and Inmates Who Claim to have Found Jesus or God!

Myra Hindley

Am I the only one who finds it a little bit of a coincidence that a huge amount of prisoners facing long sentences behind bars seem to suddenly "find Jesus or find God?" This has started to increasingly "grate" with me as I watch many crime programmes on Sky, and I do find it very unlikely that these people only found their faith after they were locked up.

Surely most people would agree that this reeks of people desperate to either shorten their sentence, get parole or to avoid the death penalty! Maybe a few of them are the real deal and genuine cases, but how do we sort out the wheat from the chaff when so many are trying to convince us they have been 'born again' and now realise the error of their ways?

I also wonder how many of these prisoners would actually continue to claim to have 'found Jesus' if they were released back into normal society, and is there any track record available of prisoners that did exactly that?

My instincts tell me that most of these convicts are simply looking for an early ticket out of prison, or a way to get a reprieve from the death penalty. Perhaps they think they will get an easier ride in the prison system if they are a member of the "God Squad". For my own part I find this whole claim incredibly irritating, and cannot help wondering why so many people seem to fall for it, especially 'prisoner visiting' clergy and nuns. I suspect they feel they need to make a difference, therefore a prisoner who claims to have found God or Jesus is a success story for them, and it is so much easier to believe this has really happened than to consider the possibility that this prisoner is lying in order to make it easier to procure an earlier release date, at which point any signs of a religious epiphany will rapidly disappear!

It no doubt goes without saying that when watching the start of a crime programme on Sky tonight featuring a female inmate showing the camera crew around her cell, and making a point of saying "and these are my Bibles", frustrates the hell out of me, enough to prompt me to write this article. If only all these so called 'converts' had made the effort to look into religion before they committed their crimes and listened to their consciences screaming at them (if they have such a thing), then they could be happily worshipping in a church now rather than languishing in a prison somewhere and saying they are now true followers of Christ the Lord!

Stanley, D.L.
Atlanta Inquirer
10-06-2001
Many Convicted Criminals Find God in Prison

'Ever hear it said that even an atheist starts to believe in God when really trying circumstances arise? I know you've heard it said that God is in prison because so many people find him when they serve a prison sentence.'

Give me a break please!

Raymond Guay

Myra Hindley
Myra Hindley
Raymond Guay
Raymond Guay
Maurice Clemmons
Maurice Clemmons

Just a few examples.

Myra Hindley, probably the most notorious child killer in the UK along with her partner Ian Brady. Fortunately she is now dead and was never released.

Raymond Guay, now 60, was paroled from a West Virginia prison in September after serving 25 years for the 1973 kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old boy and an additional 10 years for other offenses, including the kidnapping of a New Hampshire couple when he briefly escaped from state prison in 1982.

Maurice Clemmons, 37, who had a criminal history complete with violent, psychotic outbursts, was set free by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, in spite of having gunned down and killed four Police Officers. It would appear that Governor/Preacher Mike Huckabee decided that even if you are a violent criminal, if you claim to have found God while in prison (along with 99.9% of the other convicts) that you should be forgiven and released, (Maurice was later killed whilst committing a further violent crime).

There are numerous examples available for anyone who searches the Internet or watches the crime documentary channels on Sky or Cable. So why is it that so many people fall for the so called claims of "Conversion to Christianity", and for those of us with a healthily sceptical mind and an ounce of common sense, doesn't it just drive you just as crazy as it does me to hear this unbelievable rubbish?


Maurice Clemmons

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Comments 43 comments

hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

A lot of prisoners now are becoming also Muslims. It gives them a lot of advantages, at least here in Italy. It's wonderful if they find a meaning in their lives but I think they should remain where they are, helping other prisoners to live a better life. So maybe they quit killing and harassing each other in prison.

Great hub misty. Thumb up.


diogenes 6 years ago

Hi Cindy babe: The problem is prison overcrowding - world-wide. The parole boards are looking for anything to give them reason to order early release, and this god-bollocks is one way to get a play. I think metaphysical beliefs - when they go beyond being entertainment - are a form of insanity and belief in a god, quite frankly, should be a reason to KEEP them in prison. So much individual and national evil is done in the name of some deity or other. Bob


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

I'm right there with you on this one. Get out of free jail card. It's not right and is quite scary.

Sage


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 6 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Cindy,ignoring any apparent advantage finding religion may have, prison is one of the most boring and mentally stultifying situations one can be in. The Sunday church meeting is one of the few means of getting a contact with "outside" thoughts and interaction with non prisoners. Unfortunately the prison visitors who bring this religion usually have their own agenda, pushing their personal opinion of "God", and often (read almost always) it is narrow and bigoted. The average prisoner may be as cunning as an outhouse rat or may not be, but is not usually too bright, and is easily swayed. Some religious crank tub-thumping a come to Jesus and you'll be saved theme will get far more genuinely devoted followers in a prison than among the free.

One of their tried and true opening lines is "How many of you are Christians?", meaning "How many of you thump the drum for our particular line of Christian bigotry?" Almost invariably every-body present will dutifully raise their hands. They're trying to please; to not look like trouble-makers. To conform.

Many find religion in prison because there's damn' all else. When they're released, sanctity gives way to reality, whether that reality is good or bad, and they progress or regress. Regrettably, the latter is more often the case.

Cheers,

TOF


fishtiger58 profile image

fishtiger58 6 years ago from Momence, Illinois

You are so right, I also watch true crime shows and yes what's up with the I found Jesus thing. I think it's just a scam by the criminal and apparently it worked in Maurice Clemmons case. What was the governor thnking. Scary stuff.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

Hi Misty - It makes some a wee bit of sense that anyone stuck in prison in the company of more prisoners would look for something better.

Gus


BDazzler profile image

BDazzler 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

Only God knows what is genuine and what is not. People with prison ministries don't "fall for it" nearly as often as it seems in public. Most of them, that I know, are well aware of the "people pleasing" tendancy of prisoners. ... I have a small (very small) amount of experience, and one of the things I look for is the suddeness of the conversion and certain key phrases. If someone is parroting back what they've heard, it's not the same thing as someone who has had a true inner transformation. They tend to put it in their own words, related it more to themselves, and frankly get it more "wrong" because it's personal not memorized. (By "wrong" I mean doesn't perfectly line up wth whatever literature the prision ministry is using.)


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Very good comments back from everybody and interesting other perspectives in some cases. I much appreciate all the comments from hynodude, diogenes, Sage, TOF, Fishtiger, Gus and BD. Personally I am sceptical that there are many genuine cases at all, and if they want to find something to do in prison because it is 'boring', then why not take up woodwork? I liked Hypnodude's idea that if they are truly converted they should stay where they are and help other prisoners, great plan :)


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This is a very interesting hub mh and quite thought provoking. I'd hate to think anyone was worried about some of these prisoners getting bored. They should be made to clean porta potties without gloves 24/7.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for the comment Green Lotus, I totally agree with you. :)


ASHWINSPGA profile image

ASHWINSPGA 6 years ago from Lion City ( Singapore)

You know Miss Misty in my country's state prison almost 3/4 of the inmates are Christians. When i say Christians i mean prison Christians because the majority of them were born as Buddists or Hindus. Why they decided to convert?

1.the weekly worship sessions are conducted by young attractive women.

2.those who attend the sessions gets a bar of Cadbury chocolate.

3. The high ranking officers in charged of running the prison are Christians and special favours are given to Christians when it came to their requests,parol and other things.

So its quite obvious right why many of these prisoners who killed,robbed,raped without remorse when they were outside suddenly found God when they were in Prison. But i don't critisize them for this actually.These guys are survivors and they will anything in order to survive including selling their own mothers. Rather I blame these Christian organizations. Young beautiful girls conducting worship sessions? Chocolates for those who attend? Special favors such as parole and prison jobs for believers?These people are selling their religion.That's wrong.

Great job on the hub Miss Misty. :=)


Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

Very original article Misty, well done.

I love your healthy scepticism, we need that with issues like this


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Ashwin, interesting information I didn't know about, scary when the Church has to bribe people to go along! Really pleased you enjoyed the hub and thanks for the comment.

Thanks Shinkicker, I am glad we concur on this and cheers for commenting :)


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 6 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

I feel that I must further comment Cindy.

I have been in prison, held on remand for many months on charges of attempted murder, which were eventually proven wrong. Remand prisoners don't get access to such mind expanding activities as woodwork or study courses. nor do they get access to the prison library where I was held. They are locked two to a small cell for a minimum of nineteen hours a day and turned out into an enclosed exercise yard for five hours, where they can also shower. The yards have eight foot high concrete walls and heavy steel mesh over the top. A roof covers a small area at one end but the enclosure is otherwise open to the elements. Sometimes a ball is supplied in the yard but the entertainment is otherwise self supplied, - cards or a chess set. The prisoners alternate between two yards daily. One had an old TV controlled by the guards, (in a tower overlooking four yards) and played what was wanted by the majority, usually informationals and sit-coms. The other yard had a pay card 'phone which you could queue to use to ring strictly approved numbers,if you could afford a card. -so one day (five hours) TV one day telephone.

Prisoners likely to be on remand for more than three months could get a 14in TV in their cells if they could supply it themselves. Books and magazines came from friends or family and were swapped.

No money can be earned by remand prisoners (They're only accused awaiting trial), nor can they be set menial tasks like "cleaning porta-potties", that's punishment without trial, and I fail to see how it can be mentally fulfilling. Time occupying but still boring.

A lot of drivel is spouted about the joys of prison life and what a cushy time inmates have, usually by noble reformers who have heard all about it from some other outraged reformer who got it on good authority from someone else who read all about it by an investigative reporter for some Sunday scandal rag.

Prison for most is degrading, unpleasant, unhealthy and yes Green Lotus, boring.

To ASHWINSPGA: I attended the church services. I did not raise my hand as a Christian, which caused some consternation, and I didn't "convert". Nor did I note an abundance of young attractive women. The visitors were mostly male, often old, and any women were plain and often matronly. The religions were mostly fringe.

A final personal observation. The prisons in New Zealand are overcrowded; not with the guilty, but with the poor, many of whom are admittedly guilty of crime. The affluent can afford competent lawyers, the poor get legal aid, which is a scandalous rip off. The police, to keep their conviction rate up target the sector that will be inadequately defended.

TOF


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thank you for that information TOF, and of course not all prison experiences will be the same, (I have had friends in Prison too). I guess my point is that too many prisoners seem to claim to have converted to Christ the moment they hit prison, or see a chance of parole or avoiding the death penalty, and it seems very suspicious to me. I am not criticising the innocent victims incorrectly locked up as that is subject for a hub all in itself, (perhaps you are well qualified to write that one as you can obviously speak with a great deal of knowledge on the subject).

Really do appreciate the input to the subject, thanks.


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 6 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Thanks Misty,I agree that many use Born Again Christianity hypocritically.

I guess my point is that most prisoners are rather limited intellectually, and more often followers than leaders. When there is a very limited number of activities available people who would otherwise ignore religion embrace it. It's a group activity. It allows "bonding" with others. It gives something constructive to do during unoccupied time - study the bible.

On release they no longer need this crutch, so what to them was an honest behaviour "inside" is easily derided by those without knowledge of the background, when they drop the Church, "outside".

I did see numerous who used religion blatantly to better their release prospects. They were as transparent as a politicians promises!

I saw many more who's devoutness was genuine, albeit fleeting. It at least kept them better behaved in a close, hard community.

My comments aren't about the rightness of a person being imprisoned (well, not in the main) but about the conditions that exist there and the false perceptions many have of these, and also about the way that inmates adapt to endure these conditions.

Your Hub is balanced and thought provoking Cindy. It was some of the remarks in the comments section that convinced me that I should speak up.

Best wishes,

Peter


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

No worries Peter, I am glad to have received your input as it helps to keep the whole issue balanced all round. Pleased you enjoyed the hub.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

An interesting read and I am Glad the Old Firm posted a reply to bring balance to the issue. Many find God in prison and when they are released they find "Christians" who deny them work or to rent an apartment etc. because they were in prison and these so called Christians are unwilling to forgive them and recognize they have served their sentence, paid their debt, and are looking for the basics in life, a place to live and a job so they can pay their way for food and shelter. Then a new meaning comes as they realize that in prison they had food and a roof, and if society won't let them obtain the basics then a little crime to survive and the worst that happens is they go to prison for a free roof and meals. For them life is a viscous circle. It's kinda sad when you look at it as it really is.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi 50 Caliber, thanks for the feedback. Of course I welcome all points of view. Yes it is sad, but we are not talking about the average, low level crime criminal, we are talking about criminals who have committed serious crimes and are abusing the legal system by claiming to have "found Jesus". These people are the evil ones who abuse the system to aid their appeals and their chances of parole or lower sentences. These criminals are virtually a different species to the more average criminal!.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

I agree with you, Misty, there's some people who suddenly espouse religion in prison, and one does wonder if they are motivated by the hope of an earlier release. I don't think it's possible to discover whether or not the person is sincere. If they are sincere, it's still possible for them to do some good work for their fellow prisoners.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

I understand, but who am I to judge? We in the U.S. have a system to change the laws, it's slow and tedious and on issues like this it's pert near impossible. None the less I suffer do to violent offenders who have caused unjust blanket laws over firearms, the length of pocket knife and most recent how it is one gets on a flight and what they can carry, but I still refrain from judging them as I believe that is between them and their walk with God.

Go well


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Paradise, thanks for the feedback, it is hard to know if they are sincere I agree, although some may well be. Like you said, if they are they can still help their fellow prisoners.

Hi 50 Caliber, thanks so much for visiting again. Ultimately I hope they get exactly what they deserve at least, good or bad, I just hope few innocents are hurt by them along the way.


Momma Mia profile image

Momma Mia 6 years ago from North Carolina

Super Hub here!! I am new here but am feeling right at home....especially reading articles such as yours here! Kudos to you!!!

My take on this is that many never find God at all....and the ones that seem to later in life have had much drama and trauma! Makes no difference to me where one finds God at.......but it does matter to me that inmates serve their time...........and a truly God loving person understands if ya do the crime ya must do the time....... Last but not least.......the prison is a great place to find God, ones self and a deeper meaning to life!! Only up to go as I see it!!!

Thanks again for a great article

Mia


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Cheers Mia, I am delighted by your feedback, plus your comment makes loads of sense. Thanks again:) Welcome to Hubpages.


poetlorraine 6 years ago

does seem such a coincidence, but maybe they just have lots of time to think about things. Who else cares about the majority of them except god himself.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Poetlorraine, thanks for the comment, I wish I could give them the benefit of the doubt in the way you do, but I remain very much in doubt as to how genuine their 'conversions to Christianity' are in the majority of cases :)


Rojin 6 years ago

At the end of the day everyone had their own opinions and choices, and in that sense we are free to choose to follow a belief and try and change for the good. If murders are being transformed simply by God's word alone should say something...Does life really make any sense without God? Seriously...life is too short to hide or question with pride like you know the answer when you don't because there would always be another question behind it...we are only human beings.


Larry 5 years ago

I work in prison ministry and can tell you that if a person claims Christ as their savior and attends ministry services in prison ---- ut is not taken into consideration at all concerning their release date. Remember, there are just as many hypocryts sitting in church pews as there are in prison cells. I have witnessed many guys in prison say that coming to prison was the best thing that ever happened to them. They were on the wrong path heading for destruction and their imprisonment was a wake up call. Many have turned to Christ after seeing who they really are. I have witnessed men in prison who have the life of Christ living in and through them more so than in churches. So, in conclussion --- I would say there are more who are real then non-real who have committed their lives to Christ in prison.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Larry, thank you for your feedback. The problem I have with this would be how many of these prisoners maintain this 'way of thinking' AFTER release. I am still very convinced that a leopard will rarely 'change its spots' and that without distractions they may claim to have turned to Christ, but once back in society few would maintain this attitude once surrounded by former temptations. I so wish there was a genuine statistic on this available as it would be very interesting. I do sincerely agree with your comments about hypocrites currently sitting in Church pews, but in the cases I have listed it seems some very evil people are trying to claim to be 'saved' in order to get either early release or more lenient sentences.


patti 5 years ago

hear it so much,ive found God, and the good book.have been looking 4 God 4 sometime, still dont know were he lives.maybe,i need 2 get in bad trouble 2 find him?


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Interesting idea Patti, probably not what he wants though LOL. Thanks for commenting :)


Argyle 5 years ago

I came into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and found God in prison 16 years ago. It may be a popular position to be skeptical about someone who is or has been incarcerated. However all men are imperfect, all have had their short comings, although the law has not caught up with all men and women. Yet those who perceive themselves to be perfect and upright law abiding citizens, however elevated they perceive themselves to be,are still in need of the same saving grace of Jesus Christ, just as the convicted offender. I have offended and I have been converted. I also believe that if you have done the crime you should do the time. However the sad news is that the prison population of the world is not restricted to those who have committed "crimes". We are all prisoners to sin. We are addicted to sex, money, self worship, selfishness, insensitivity, greed, hatred and the list goes on. But I thank God that He sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him can and will be freed from the burden of sin. You see, conversion to Christianity in not a way out of prison. It is a way out of a life of selfishness and sin. It is the way to a better life. If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are past away and behold all things become new. There will always be exceptions to the rule. There will always be pretenders and defaulters. It is not exclusive to the inmate population. They can be found in all walks of life be it political, professional, your brother or sister, best friend or enemy. But like the prisoner who has truly converted,.....you too can make a difference......one person at a time!!!.......Who the Son sets free is free indeed! Give your life to Jesus today.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for sharing your experiences Argyle, it is refreshing to hear a genuine conversion story and I applaud those prisoners that do genuinely find God, the ones that worry me are those who have a hidden agenda when they claim to have found God, and think it makes them look more repentant as to their crimes and therefore increases their chances of earlier parole.


Argyle 5 years ago

Let us continue to accentuate the positive and laud those who seek to do good, even those who have erred and are seeking redemption. I believe that most of the person who have come into a saving relationship with Jesus set out to complete the journey. However it is not as easy at it appears. As in all walks of life people need people and their support. Unfortunately a lot of inmates are not rehabilitated and there is a glaring absence of support once they are released. Recidivism is very high among persons who have been incarcerated. One of the main reasons why they find themselves back in jail is because it is difficult for the individual to fit back in with ‘normal’ life. They have to reestablish ties with their family, return to high-risk communities and friends, they often have a poor education, poor work history and now have a criminal record to deal with. Many prisoners report being anxious about their release; they are excited about how their life will be different “this time around” which does not always end up being the case. Again I do not condone, applaud, reward wrongdoing, but the erring need help in reintegrating into society and to continue on a positive and productive growth path. Christianity is one such avenue that leads to genuine change. For everyone that has fallen they are five that stand up. Let us endeavor to encourage those who overcome and do all in our power to be the support system that all imprisoned persons need in order to be reintegrated into society and become productive citizens.


Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 5 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

I think it is possible for a prisoner to find a religion in prison, but I agree that it should not make any difference to their sentence. They still have to serve out their time regardless.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for sharing your thought Hendrika. It is definitely possible to find religion in prison, it is just that my suspicious nature makes me doubt the authenticity of many such claims made by inmates, especially those who are hoping for, or seeking parole.


Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 5 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

I totally agree with you, I'm just saying in the case of a true conversion it should still not make any difference to their sentence.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Absolutely Hendrika, I agree with you too. Thanks for commenting :)


L Vines 5 years ago

I am glad that Jesus is in the Jail and there are a lot of scriptures about where Christ can be found. Jail is one Mathew 25:36 says I was in prison and you visited me If you have salvation we are supposed to share with the sinners because Jesus is no respector of person your lies and other sins are no different than the thieves and the murderers... Sin is sin in Gods eyes


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Some good points, Misty.

Finding God and Jesus should be its own reward. Those who show off their "born again" nature are full of ego, which is a dead giveaway.

A true Christian would not tell reporters or parole board about their spiritual discovery, but they would tell other inmates. They would minister to them and help them truly find God.

Spiritual conversion should allow them to be grateful for their incarceration, just as we should be grateful for all things that happen to us.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

What a great and insightful comment lone77star. Thanks for posting it here :)


Kristina H 3 years ago

I think people don't realize how horrible their life is or what they are doing until they hit the bottom and for a lot of people prison is the bottom, especially death row. When people are free and committing their crimes, they're not stopping to think about their actions...they're sick! If they were "normal" and sane individuals, they wouldn't be out committing crimes and hurting others. These people do deserve punishment for their crimes whether they find God or not, but lets not sit here and act like they're wrong for turning to Christ when He is the only one who can save anyone. Just because they finally realize how much they need Him, we're going to criticize and judge them for that? That doesn't make us any better. Obviously if you don't kill children and you compare yourself to someone who does and you say "I'm better than her or him", yeah that's pretty easy to do, but what if someone who has never lied compares themselves to you? Then who looks like the better person? Point is is that we all sin and some sins are scarier and more horrible than others but overall they are all sins. You can compare for the rest of your life but remember there is always someone out there who is better than you. And better than me.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 3 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

I never said they were 'wrong for turning to Christ', if they genuinely have then I applaud them. What I was trying to point out was that it looks incredibly likely that prisoners who 'claim' to have become devout Christians, are more likely trying to look they have repented in order to get early release or better conditions, lower sentences etc, when in reality they are probably no more interested in Christ than they were when they committed their crimes. I hope this makes my position and feelings on the matter more clear.

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