Category Archives: Blameless and Forever Free Ministries

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Don’t Hate, Rehabilitate!

Don’t Hate, Rehabilitate!

When you’re surrounded for years with only other incarcerated beloveds and their criminal conduct, we wonder why our recidivism rates are so high!

Our prisoners need rehabilitation leading to transformation while they’re doing time for their crimes. Long-standing punishment without restoration is why two out of three offenders return back to state prison within three years after being released.

Hurt People Hurt Others!

Society will continue to pay with more crime, lives and homelessness if we do not step in and do more by intervening and moving them towards restoration, reintegration and redemption!

Embracing that today’s offender will be tomorrow’s neighbor supports the very core and mission of Blameless and Forever Free Ministries which is organized to reduce the recidivism rate, expand community safety and awareness, and disrupt the cycle of re-offending.

We need to do more! Introducing our incarcerated to Jesus by pouring His Great Love into their lives covers them with grace and motivation leading to transformation and a smoother transition back into society.

Reentry programs and the love of Jesus are a powerful tool for successful transitioning and are desperately needed in our prisons today. Otherwise, our incarcerated who have never dealt with what brought them to prison in the first place will be shackled with what they have picked up during their prison term: additional criminal conduct, habits and unhealthy behaviors that are being brought back into and infecting society.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3).

Long-standing punishment has gotten us nowhere except for high recidivism rates. It’s time we start meeting and embracing our prisoners right where they’re at and pouring the love of Jesus into their lives. Their lives do matter!

Until next time…

Re-offending Lacks Relationship!

Relational Justice

Blameless Prison Doors

Relational Justice

When you think of offenders doing time for their crimes in state prison, what is your initial response?  Losers?  Criminals?  Drug addicts?  Who cares?

Who ends up in our prison system anyways?  Do we even care?  Or does our prison system take care of that for us? 

Being honest, I admit to being hypocritical; once considering them all vile through my own lens of judgment and condemnation until the Lord allowed a crisis to enter my own life to see who really exists inside this dark and dangerous dungeon. 

Their precious lives matter!

Realizing our prison system is broken and filled with the same repeat offenders, you know, the individuals who went to prison, served their time, got released, re-offended, and then goes back to prison and starts the whole process again; something needs to change.

If we’re all a part of each person’s contribution to society, good or bad, our hearts need compassion through awareness of what an incarcerated beloved goes through.

Being the founder of Blameless and Forever Free Ministries, I know personally who ends up in our prison system:  Hurt people!  Hurt people hurt others!  When wounds stemming from childhood traumas or other hurts are never healed, other vices/actions often become the crutch in dealing with triggers and pain that’s been holding them captive in a torturing cell of hell.

Imagine being shackled in your own cell of hell while serving time behind bars in prison. We’re not negating the pain these prisoners have caused to others, but we’re sharing being caged up like an animal without rehabilitation is only going to make wounded hearts hardened and calloused. This leads them to continue to hurt others, even inside the prison walls.

 

I’ve experienced personally what unhealed pain has caused; the tearing apart of my own family along with hurting another and their family all in the name of fighting.  My son is being released from Folsom State Prison this year.  He has completed serving time for his crime and considers his incarceration a blessing in disguise.

But is society going to accept him back into population with open arms as he transitions or are the flaming arrows and emotional daggers going to penetrate deeper into an already wounded soul through discrimination, obstacles and judgment?

Relational Judgment

What many beloveds don’t realize is what our prisoners go through once they’re released and why rehabilitation is not only vital for our incarcerated, but for society as a whole.

Without transformation from rehabilitation, the incarcerated will never receive the opportunity to succeed with the many obstacles they face, and society will continue to absorb the cost, monetarily and/or possibly with lives, producing more victims leading us nowhere except entangled in this vicious cycle of broken people.

Suffering doesn’t have to lead us to constant failures where frustration and bitterness develops, but it should lead us instead into creative forces for positive changes.  That is transformation.  It can’t take place with just the offenders solely through long-standing punishment, society needs to play a proactive, integral role in transformation.  We are all a part of the solution and need to change.

Transformation is a process, not an overnight conversion and/or purpose.  Changing the way we utilize our prisons so people come out rehabilitated and not worse than what led them there in the first place is vital in building and giving hope to our prisoners.

 

Blameless State Prison Grounds
 

How can we do this?

Being the founder of Blameless, I sure don’t have all the answers, but I’m proactively working with the incarcerated and governmental entities and community members to help find the need behind the need and set up a plan of attack to help contribute to the lives that need help. Blameless believes not doing anything due to fear of failure is not acceptable when many lives are at stake.

With my 20 years experience in the law field, being a chaplain, serving on Folsom State Prison’s Inmate Family Council along with sharing the gospel with the incarcerated and their families, Blameless is now transitioning its focus towards the rehabilitation side and reentry programs for the incarcerated.

This is Blameless’ contribution to help stabilize the homeless epidemic. Without rehabilitation, most offenders will end up either homeless adding to our homeless epidemic or back into crime leading to more prison time.

Public safety issues effect more than just the criminal justice system.  Our prison systems are working towards rehabilitation, but it’s going to take continual effort with changes thinking outside the box.  The old ways are not working.

I believe relational justice must include God and His Great Love serving as the anchor for everything built upon it and will change the way our prisons function.  We will focus on making our offenders emotionally healthier from the inside out with tools to become better than when they entered prison.  This is instrumental in successful reentry before they’re released.

Punishment is never going to work being the long-lasting solution. Yes, offenders need to do time for their crimes, with their punishment meeting their crime, but they should be allowed to change before they’re released. And once they’ve done their time, they should be accepted back into society.

What good is it for society, much less the offender, to be released back into communities where incapacitation and preclusion rules?

Punishment can no longer be the sole answer.  Rehabilitation needs to exist along with punishment. Rehabilitation requires love and action. The vast majority of our incarcerated are never visited and/or encouraged and supported to help facilitate healthy hearts and minds.

Many chaplains, churches and nonprofits, along with our state prison systems, are transitioning into focusing on rehabilitation and God’s Great Love, but we need an army to stand on the front lines with the oppressed and fight injustice.

If deterrence worked, our prisons would be empty.

Transformation is a process. The opportunities have to outweigh the many obstacles. Transformation starts with the offender.  It starts with the offender taking personal responsibility for their actions and deciding to change.  It’s hard to take that initiative when one is not loved and/or supported.  Families need to get involved along with society.

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Everyone Has Value!

Everyone Has Value!

Who do you think ends up in our state prison facilities?  Do we actually even care who’s occupying space in our prison system or does the state prison itself take care of that for us?

What if your son, a brother, your father, your mother or even your husband was there, would you care?

Or would you hide behind your own veil of shame?

We’re all tired.  We’re all trying to survive…

Everyone’s drinking a bit just to take the edge off of it.  Everyone’s smoking.  Wired, yet tired.  Even popping a pill or two to just do.  We’re all tired.  Everyone’s at the end of the rope without any hope! 

We’re all distracted.  Doing everything we can just to keep calm…

Just to keep it together. 

Everyone’s high just to get by!!!

Everyone’s terrified hiding behind their pride!

We all mess up and we all need forgiveness.

Every failed relationship needs another to try again.

Blameless Respect

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?

Be honest…

Now imagine it being known and exposed to all who dare to look, kind of like living with it taped to both your forehead and back.

How would you feel being completely exposed??? 

Probably would have to get high just to get by. 

Maybe even rob the mob and sob…

How we survive prison is a life-long commitment…

Prisoners survive most sentences.  Sooner or later, they return to the long-awaited outside world.

But is it really what they had hoped for, even fantasized about? 

Nobody thinks about how they’re going to be discriminated against, even tagged with the big “F” as in felon precluding them from getting a decent job, a car, a roof over their head or even vote. 

No one told them that they would have to live making minimum wage just to work.  How can you possibly save enough money to get a car to drive to work, much less support a family with a roof over your head? 

Nobody ever said you’d end up becoming a working homeless person just to survive in a world that is full of hate and condemnation. 

You did the time for your crime, but now you’re forced to live on a dime!

With sobering statistics showing that two out of every three incarcerated return back to State Prison within three years, as a society we are all imprisoned by their incarceration.  Once they are released and walk through those pearly gates, these beloveds must live by a completely foreign set of values and rules.

They have lived under the governance of institutionalized thinking being caged up like animals, but since we’re so good at punishing and not rehabilitating, prisoners forget quickly into their imprisonment how to critically think and function because it was all figured out for them being incarcerated. 

Being institutionalized told them when to wake, pee, eat, shower, exercise, work, etc. 

Kind of like a herd of sheep in their protective pens. 

But this institutionalized thinking never permitted them to deal with the issues that led the prisoners to commit the crimes that incarcerated them in the first place.  Now they’ve been forced to suppress that pain and have developed more issues from being incarcerated.

And we throw them back into reality with a whole new world that jeers their every move with spears of judgment, hate, ridicule, condemnation, discrimination and a lack of acceptance?

Not to mention, if they didn’t have an outpouring of love from family and friends who supported them with love and visitation during their incarceration, how can we expect them to successfully reenter society?

How can we make changes in our thinking and help our incarcerated reintegrate, rehabilitate ushering them into redemption to stay out of prison for the rest of their lives? 

God commands us to stand with the oppressed and fight injustice, so…

One major weakness I find being a chaplain, transitioning Blameless and Forever Free Ministries towards the reentry side for our prisoners along with having served on the Inmate Family Council at Folsom State Prison, not even a tenth of all prisoners have contact visitation with loved ones and friends. 

And without any love and support, we expect them to have successful transition back into society?

Everyone has value! 

Re-offenders lack relationships!

Until next time…

Reoffending Lacks Relationship

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Tammy Ingram Founder Hebrews 13.3

The Incarcerated Say, “Thank You For Loving Us!”

Blameless Hebrews 13.3

The Incarcerated Say

Thank You For Loving Us!

How often do we go through life being thanked for loving another?  Especially those with differing faiths, colors and cultures? 

How about being thanked for simple, random acts of kindness that flow naturally from the love in our hearts?

Should our expectations demand acknowledgement and recognition?

I honestly never really experienced what walking out Christ’s mission, ministry and soul was like, understanding His interaction and engagement with EVERYONE, until I started pouring life into the rejected and abandoned; our homeless and incarcerated.  They’ve taught me what love means…

Blameless Warrior/Thank You

Working with the homeless and the incarcerated has emphasized how we are living in a self-serving, loved-deprived culture. 

Sadly, it’s much easier to hate and judge, using others for our own gain, yet so unfathomable to love ALL OF MANKIND through our actions when there’s no benefit to ourselves and/or acknowledgement and recognition.

When was the last time you heard the words, “Thank you for loving us”? 

Much less from those incarcerated?

Break…

My…

Heart!

I felt led to share a recent thank-you card in order to shed light to some of the lives that exist inside our prison systems. 

Admittedly, I used to judge and criticize those incarcerated until my own crisis developed with having a son incarcerated due to fighting.

But I lean in being convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are His lovers who have been called to fulfill His designed purpose (Romans 8:28 TPT).

This beautiful and touching card came from inmates at Folsom State Prison demonstrating what a little love and rehabilitation leading to redemption offers. 

They don’t know Jesus, YET…

I’m honored to be transitioning my nonprofit, Blameless and Forever Free Ministries, to stand with the oppressed and fight for injustice as an avenue to help stabilize our homeless epidemic.  Their successful re-entry back into society keeps more beloveds from adding to our homeless epidemic that is out of control. 

Every life matters!

Look at those eyes on the card!!! Talk about a gift of artistry.  Her eyes captivate me.  The twinkling radiates with life as if she’s actually looking back at me.  What a work of art!

I’m not a badass or warrior princess as some of the inmates might say, because honestly, sometimes I’m so paralyzed in fear and scared to death, I have to continue remembering I’m surrounded by angel armies!  I have a much easier time being referred to as Mama Tammy or Miss Tammy. 

I’m just walking out being obedient to whom my Father says I am, His precious daughter, that the Lord God Almighty chooses to work through as one of His vessels to pour out His Great Love!

“…The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37; Matthew 9:35-38).

Through the chiseling of my own calloused heart and loving on the homeless and the incarcerated, I’ve had my eyes opened to what God’s Great Love does to those who have been thrown out, rejected and abandoned.  They’re starving!

Maybe it’s because I understand that deep, torturing loss, through my own life crises.

What I once took somewhat for granted and expected, God’s Great Love, many are desperate for and would do anything to be led through that door.

Why shouldn’t we all be extended an invitation to engage in a relationship with our Beautiful Jesus and be loved on?  Jesus doesn’t discriminate, He invites us all.

Our world is starving for love!  And our incarcerated are no exception to that rule and need God’s Great Love!

Thank you, Beautiful Jesus, for allowing me to see society’s desperation and need for Your Great Love through your lens!  Talk about masterpieces…

Thank you, Lord, for the boldness and courage to stand with the oppressed and fight injustice.  Every life matters!  I’m beyond blessed to see Your hand and covering of Love to those who desperately need an encounter with You!

Until next time…

Do It Again, God!  Do It Again!

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The Gift Of Presence…

The Gift Of Presence…

Priceless!

Hi friends and family, I know I’ve been absent this past month.  Forgive my overwhelmed schedule.  But I couldn’t let Christmas go by without saying, I’m praying that we all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

But first…

Are you wanting, and willing, to give “THE PERFECT GIFT” of Christmas that far surpasses any and all cost? 

We love because God first loved us.  And our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us (1 John 4:19).  God gave His one and only Son as a gift to us.

So giving the gift of presence might just be the most precious gift we can give to those we love.  Wrapping ourselves in consideration and conscientiousness embraces those we love, hearts become mended as the bow becomes untied and lives become alive and blossom like wildflowers.

Presence is a genuine expression of love.

Presence says “you matter”…

Presence offers peace…

Presence initiates healing…

Presence delivers love…

Presence initiates generosity…

A life of generosity demonstrates God’s genuine love and presence.

Presence is priceless!

Showing up and being present is invaluable.

Christmas Love

Putting away the electronics to listen embraces consideration.  Listening without thinking creates closeness.  Being attentive and mindful requires casting all judgment aside.  Instead, following every line and wrinkle, the twinkle radiating from the eyes, the battle scars and sweet freckles that make up this amazing masterpiece before us tells us more than a story…

Our presence and attentiveness is a gift that speaks volumes and shows we care.  We can’t put a price tag on that and it will never go out of style.  It could start a trend that is re-gifted over and over and over again.  Talk about paying it forward.

And even though it might be a cliche, there’s no time like the present!!!

May we be the gifts that God uses as His presence to bring hope, cheer and joy this year.

Heck, sharing a box of chocolates can and will unite lives with all its feel-good endorphins, not to mention sweeten the atmosphere and those that indulge.  Sharing in the tasting indulgence creates experiences filled with love, joy and peace.

I don’t know about you, but I have absolutely no self-control when it comes to a box of See’s Candy so you’ll know where to find me this year!

May you feel and experience God’s sweetness, His presence and His abiding love throughout this holiday season and through each new day of the coming year!

And because faith makes all things possible, hope makes all things work together, and God’s Great Love makes all things beautiful, may you be blessed with ALL three gifts this Christmas.

Until next time…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Gratitude: A Glimpse Through The Lens Of Images…

 

Gratitude: A Glimpse Through The Lens Of Images…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and family!  I just wanted to share rather quickly how grateful I am for you, your life, and your heart to sojourn alongside of me through this crazy journey called life. 

I’m sharing with all y’all an excerpt of an email I sent out to all my nonprofit’s financial partners and the invaluable volunteers who make up Blameless in being God’s hands and feet.

So on behalf of myself, and Blameless and Forever Free Ministries, Happy Thanksgiving!  We are grateful for you and are blessed to hear and witness all the amazing stories and testimonials that God created and designed for His purpose and destiny.  Talk about amazing grace!

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Thanksgiving upon us, we are eternally grateful that you are a part of the Blameless family.

Your support not only fuels our work, but it inspires us to create a much more compassionate and loving world.  This encouragement enables us to be a part of stabilizing the homeless epidemic and now transitioning into re-entry programs for the incarcerated.  It’s an honor to be able to serve our communities through a sprinkling of God’s Great Love..

We’re pleased to share with you a few pictures illustrating our work throughout the year. 

Thank you for supporting us and being with us on Thanksgiving, over the hectic holidays, and throughout each year.
 
 
 

Feeding hundreds of food-insecure beloveds and friends in need (homeless)!

 

Erin, homeless veteran, and single mother…

No longer homeless!

 

Tammy and Dave, no longer homeless!

Tammy is employed with

the founder’s son’s company.

 

Martin, stage four cancer, found family.

No longer homeless!

 

And many more no longer homeless!

 

Gypsy homeless, helping clean up Roseville (top left photo)!

 

Suits 4 Homeless Event!

 

Just Because… Event!

 

#GivingTuesday Event!

 

 

Blameless is now transitioning into re-entry programs for the incarcerated! 
 
Blameless believes generous hearts meet the offenders right where they’re at because one day they will become our neighbors.

 

With Gratitude,

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries

 
Until next time…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Re-Entry Back Into Society…

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Re-Entry Back Into Society…

Transitioning from institutionalized thinking to independent thinking!

Hi friends and family!  I’m praying that this week our hearts will be so full of love, that we will embrace others who are completely different from us. 

I’m going to start sharing where this challenging expansion of my nonprofit is taking me, not just for accountability purposes, but sharing my fears and insecurities sojourning into areas I’m far from qualified to engage in, but have been called to.

God is doing amazing things with Blameless and Forever Free Ministries as we transition into the re-entry programs for the incarcerated.  If society doesn’t support them, they’ll become homeless and be prone to unlawful conduct.  And with 600,000 prisoners nationwide being released each year, we don’t need to add to our homeless epidemic.

I’ll be breaking up my writings into smaller chunks after this one since there are areas I, myself, never gave much thought to and can be perceived as quite overwhelming. 

Words alone won’t impact people, but the power of God that is manifested through our lives does.

Is everyone really welcomed in today’s society?  How we respond to the oppressed, our incarcerated and homeless, is a perfect heart check.  It’s one thing to say everyone is welcome, but it’s another to support it with actions.

Upon release, the incarcerated walk out through the pearly gates overwhelmed.  Freedom at last!  But a whole new foreign world rushes in.  Fantasies never detected the strong sting of transition.  Focus is scattered.  Between the nervous kind of energy and the adrenaline flooding from their systems, each pump and beat resembles more of a prison break than a release date.

It takes bravery to feel and experience this fear while keeping self-controlled.  It’s the hardest thing anyone could do, especially without a support system!

The typical offender is released from prison with nothing but a new state identification card, a $250 debit card, a bus ticket, and the clothes on their back.  This is how our incarcerated re-enter society. 

One minute everything is institutionalized thinking and controlled and suddenly it’s independently dependent on thyself.  Change is hard.  If that’s not hard enough, try existing again being branded with the big “F” as in “Felon.” 

Blameless Words That Restore

Connections provide the spark that is needed for the journey back to a vital and dignified life.

Welcoming our returning citizens (incarcerated) back into community takes preparation. With 2/3 of all inmates ending up back in prison within three years of their release dates, we need to start investing in them before they leave their institutions and thereafter. 

Investing in people and human dignity, we will reap the rewards of a safer and sound community for ourselves.

If we take the time to teach them how to take care of themselves, they’ll be able to take care of themselves, their family and their communities.

That’s rehabilitation, right?

We mustn’t forget that our incarcerated are branded for life.  They are handicapped.  That is their new reality also. 

With 25 percent of the population having arrest records, that means there are more people with arrest records than college degrees.

That is a mind-blowing concept to me.  We wonder why the world is the way it is today.  It’s too easy to hate and hard to love!  This is both sobering and motivating.

Another interesting statistic is, why do so many people end up back in prison?

I have a criminal record!

No, I don’t personally have a criminal record.  I do have a son that does.  And according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, with having 2.3 million people incarcerated annually along with over 4.7 million on some form of parole or probation, every family has at least one beloved in need of extra grace. 

Shocking statistics, but one in every four Americans has an arrest record.  That’s a staggering statistic.

What does a person with an arrest record look like?

Speaking of my son, he’s smart, handsome with blue eyes and blonde hair and loves his mother and daughter to eternity.  He’s an amazing father.  His heart is full of compassion and he’s working on completing his degree. 

He made a mistake in getting into a fight and is doing time for his crime.  Once released, he will have his mother outside those pearly gates to surround him with love, support and help guiding him back into society being a productive member. 

Why do people return to prison?  For one, their criminal record discriminates them from essential matters that we take for granted, like housing and employment.

Successful reentry requires compassion, patience and forgiveness.

A typical three-year sentence costs taxpayers over $100,000 of investment dollars into their rehabilitation.  But where is this “rehabilitation” when one only knows institutionalized thinking and demands?

Statistics show one in five walking into prison is a result of not being convicted of a new crime, but for violating extra rules of their parole or probation that you and I could commit, without a criminal history or record, that otherwise would not be considered an offense. 

Violations could be something as minimal as missing a court date, a parole or therapy appointment, not having a stable job or housing, or even not paying fines.

Our prison system is very good at punishing people, but rehabilitation is lacking.  The real reason a person ended up in prison goes largely untreated.

Most ex-offenders leave the state prison facility with more problems than what brought them there in the first place; their pre-incarceration issues. 

Having said that, where do they start?  They are overwhelmed.  Every decision in every hour of their days incarcerated were managed and dictated by others while being incarcerated.  Their own personal decision-making skills atrophy.  They’re not used to thinking, every hour is already determined day in, day out.

How can we expect them to make better decisions and choices when everything is up against them? 

Without the tools taught during a successful transition back into society, the ugly process of incarceration starts all over again.

Many return homeless, indigent, with no place to go, no job, and no specialized training.

For those that do have a place to go to, whereas not to be homeless, some go back to the same environments that caused them the problems in the first place. 

I’ve seen firsthand what happens when an addict goes back to living with an addict.  They’re back in the dysfunction that caused their incarceration. 

Oooops, I’ll stop here.  I hope you’ll come back and hear more.

Generous hearts meet the offenders right where they’re at because they know one day that they will become our neighbors…

Until next time…

Blameless Teach Generosity