The Importance of Jail and Prison Ministry
Forgiveness is for Everyone
I began volunteer jail ministry about 10 years ago as part of a community outreach program through my church. All believers are called to the same ministry of reconciliation as mandated in 2 Corinthians 5:18 but not all are called to the same field of ministry. Some minister in hospitals and hospices, some on street corners, still others in buildings called churches. The Bible plainly says we (believers) are "the church". Yet man somehow and for whatever reason has substituted the building for the people. ; Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
And everything has become new from God - he who reconciled us to himself in The Messiah, and he has given us the Ministry of the reconciliation.
The ministry, witnessing for Jesus behind jail and prison walls is a special calling, I believe. I once had to minister to a young man, not quite 20 who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend. Almost in tears he confessed his remorse to me and said how sorry he was. He appeared to not understand fully what his plight was, that he had to learn quickly and seek empowerment from and place all his trust in this Jesus I had just spoken about. What I saw in the person who stood before me was not a murderer but a frightened child who could not understand why he was not going to be given another chance since he had said how sorry he was. My only hope for him is that the words and scriptures I had ministered from were enough to bring some comfort in the days, weeks, and years to come.
Then there was the father of a 12 year old son that was "taking a ride for 18" for a double murder. He pleaded for me to contact his son and enlist him in my church's mentoring program. After a couple phone calls the sons' mothers number ceased to exist. I lost contact. I think about the promise I made and one of the principles of prison ministry; never make a promise you can't keep. We learn from our mistakes; I no longer make well intentioned promises. Over a ten year period I have had several positive encounters, from men who had sat in on ministry sessions. Like the young men in our congregation that most fellow congregants have no idea that they became members of our church because they were impressed by the unselfish Jesus first approach ministry we deliver constantly behind locked doors. We tell those who are curious and believe they would like to do jail ministry that we are able to minister the way we do because of the call to this ministry but also the truth being taught in our church. It is essential to be planted in a fellowship where the leadership are transparent, where the Love of Jesus is experienced above church business. People have to feel they matter . The young men who have "done time" at our church all had one thing in common, they agreed to visit our church when their "time" was up, did so and some not only joined but invited parents and friends as well. Then there are the many men that approach me from time to time in public places and tell me how what they heard the Holy Spirit speak through me had affected their lives or how they have been crime free or introduce me to their families. My 14 year old son has witnessed men with their sons approach me in public places and honor God through their changed lives. There is a 25 year old Supermarket cashier in my neighborhood who said he remembered me from the county jail when he was 17 years old. The message he heard so impressed him he has never been back to jail and aspires to be a minister. Jail and Prison ministry are essential to lowering "recidivism". However, recidivism is necessary for a private business enterprises like the Prison Industrial Complex. Leading this pernicious drive for more private enterprise and less Government oversight and involvement is the Corrections Corporation of America.
The Corrections Corporation of America is the largest prison building enterprise in the world. That America leads the world in prison populations is no mere accident. Built on free Black slave labor America was faced with a huge dilemma in 1865 when it became a crime to hold and exploit Black human beings as slaves.
The spirit of "free enterprise", that nebulous catch phrase for selective protected by law hustling is far reaching. When people seasoned to constant attack by individuals in key political, social, economic, medical, scientific, and educational positions, seek to protect themselves they risk further attack by those in power who profit either directly or indirectly from their devalued, undereducated, and politically scattered communities. In the 80s and 90s the counter-attack was raised in the ideology of 'reverse racism". The power brokers were quick to pour money into research to render reverse racism a serious threat to Euro-Americans. Since then even "racism" has been redefined, declared a "social construction", stripped of its power and is being replaced with something still being developed. In short crying racism, although it still exists is a waste of time because racists are now well placed in all power positions. "The System" is a shield for racists.
One collect phone call from"lock-up" to a family member costs $16, a hair cut anywhere from $10-25, basic toiletries like deodorant, toilet paper, soap demand that poor families bring money to jails and prisons to be placed "on the books". Private food companies, clothing, and pharmaceuticals (some estimates reveal that over 70% of all inmates are on some type of medication) still serve as slave masters.
Private investors, in one of the worlds' fastest growing industries, private prisons, are enlisting Black superstars and entertainers through manipulating agents who invest huge sums on behalf of unsuspecting "stables". Recidivism then, is a good thing to investors. It is a well known fact that the jail industry has for years relied on third grade test scores to project future jail projects. This working model impacts The School to Prison Pipeline. Of course the overwhelming population affected by the School to Prison Pipeline are African American youth. Almost 80% of youth passing through Juvenile Justice in this country are young Blacks. The School to Prison Pipeline is the first or most important step to healthy (read over populated) Prison Investments.
There is a fight going on right now to remove all Chaplains from jails and prisons. Although I am qualified to be paid I have, like many others ,labored as a "volunteer chaplain" for more than 10 years. We take our mandate from Matthew - King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Matthew 25:44. Because it is a command from My Lord I am honored to do it, and it works... His In Service
School to Jail Pipeline and the Prison Industrial Complex
The School to Jail Pipeline is the primary component supplier of the Prison Industrial Complex. Another crucial component is illegal immigrants. These two components alone supply over 85% of private prisons return on investments.
“There has been a marked change in the amount of activity at the state level to end our addiction to incarceration,” Vineeta Gupta, deputy legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told IPS.
Critics of this current phase of the evolution American Slavery seemed perplexed and as usual not wanting to bruise the sensibilities of the Euro-American white male, almost always skirt around calling names, choosing political correctness over truth and looking futilely to place blame anywhere except at the feet of white men and their interests. Euro-Americans understand that in order to remain at the top of the social and economic chain slavery must be eternally made adaptable to economic free market principles. Anybody or anything that stands against this is anti-freedom. This is why an horrendous cry goes up against too much government intervention as Euro-Americans, no matter the political persuasion are in agreement that too much government involvement brings unwanted scrutiny into the workings of preferred business practices and the flow of free market progress.
Euro-Americans are addicted to being in control. Because they have been slave masters for so long the idea that they could one day lose control and become slaves makes their outlook and reality the primary catalyst for aggression. Media propaganda makes their fears real. The War on Drugs is an example of the insanity that "others" must be controlled at all costs. Richard Nixon coined the War on Drugs and in so doing offered a solution to a problem that didn't exist. That's right, there was no drug problem before Richard Nixon invented it. The War on Drugs was part of a larger preemptive Containment Strategy. Containment was introduced into the American social scientific milieu as an answer to social problems, mainly communism and later the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, communism meant anything and everything that was "un-American". Harry S. Truman was the father of containment, who invoked life into it in defining his war against "communism". Another component of the Containment Strategy was Zero Tolerance. Zero Tolerance grew directly out of the War on Drugs. Zero Tolerance Policy was modified and is now used as the primary containment strategy of the School to Prison Pipeline.
Lobbyists control interests through politician support who ensure that laws are created and enacted that protects investments. The payoffs amount to selling people through the system of corrections to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Private enterprise functions as suppliers of shoes, clothing, pharmaceuticals, cleaning supply companies, food distributors and on-site small stores that sell toiletries and other items. Sub-contractors are hired as barbers, ladies hair professionals and vendors of sandwiches and drinks, intended to supplement inadequate jail food. A simple hamburger and drink can cost $10 or more. Families of "inmates" are made unwilling support personnel who trek weekly to bring money to be placed on "the books" for loved ones. The system impacts the entire family as a man's family is made to do time with him or her. Sociologists have puzzled the question why the oppressed are slow to rise against those who enslave them. They have arrogantly entertained the notion that the humbled are too weak and lack the courage to free themselves. The truth of the matter is the oppressed are more humane than those who rule. The poor bear witness daily of the evil that produces wealth, wealth that ceases at death.The reason that jail and prison ministry is so important is because it is commanded by Jesus Christ; and it works. There is nothing like introducing a man to Jesus Christ who has no hope and witnessing a miracle that allows him to confront his situation with a renewed positive outlook and succeed.
When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?' Matthew 25:39