Tag Archives: #folsomprison

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

 

About Me/Meet Tammy Ingram/Founder

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About Me

About me…  For starters, I proudly wear the crown in being Grammy Tammy. I was graced with a princess granddaughter after raising, and surviving, rambunctious sons.  All I knew besides being knee deep in stinky socks, baseballs and Tonka trucks, were starving boys and enamored, pestering girls.  Now a whole new world of tiaras and tutus and bright pink manicures-pedicures enriches each day along with giggles and princess kisses.

On a more serious note, I am a beach girl raised in good ‘ole Southern California.  When I’m traveling abound and running through airports, I am often asked if I was raised in the south due to my Tammy Flare.  I jokingly reply, “Well, you could say so.  I grew up in beautiful San Diego County.  That is in the south, you know!” 

I am living each day as a treasured daughter who has embraced God’s grace, determined to leave a legacy of love through the realm of advocacy. Being a “Voice” for those who have lost theirs through the imprisonment of abuse and addiction, along with suffering from great trauma and violence, is an honor to glorify my Beautiful Jesus.

My motto and the way I see it is:  There is no shame in our game; Jesus is His name!

Because the Lord turned my ashes (pain) into beauty, after 20 years working in the law profession combined with another seven years serving as a chaplain, obviously attending the law enforcement chaplaincy academy wasn’t enough academia, the Lord called me back to school.  College life is hard enough for a 20-year-old, much less a woman in her Fabulous 50s.

I am proud to say I graduated Magna Cum Laude and am a lifetime honorary scholastic member of Alpha Lambda Delta while accomplishing my Bachelor’s of Science in Religion, with a minor in church ministries.  But… and I preface it with a big BUT… I am forever working on my Master’s of Divinity.  Some day!  I’m Grammy Tammy; doing everything backwards! 

I know all too well the life application meaning of Philippians 4:13 at its finest:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  So hard, but so rewarding!

You will find quite often that I refer to myself as being “high maintenance” in my writings.  This “high maintenance” tag is just another lucid term I use to describe my pathetic Tammy Tantrum fits. Seeing a near six-foot-tall woman pout and cry hysterically explains my extreme need for time with my Lord. 

I love my Jesus and when I find His radiance has taken a backseat to the cast-iron horns emerging from my head while flaming arrows are spewing out of my mouth (quite the visualization, huh?), initiating a meltdown consisting of toddler tantrums, I realize rather quickly my great need for my Goditude time; solitude time with my Papa God.

Since I’ve been an advocate for those without a voice due to trauma and abuse, creating addictions and depression (all of which I have walked through myself), I understand the hurt, the loss and sorrow of a bleeding heart. I want to share with other Beloveds my story with a twist: Being an Advocate for the Word instead! 

One great reason why I served on Folsom State Prison’s Inmate Family Council; everyone deserves to be loved and supported!

We can all have many degrees, licenses and certifications too numerous to count and list, but my heart’s desire is to introduce God’s Great Love to everyone I encounter. If we could only understand that hurt people hurt others, we would be able to leave room for the concept that healed people heal also! 

When you’ve become healed and transformed from a life filled with trauma and violence (yes, I’m a survivor of violent crimes), your engagement with others becomes an honor as you sojourn this side of heaven present.  Being able to lean into the very heartbeat of Jesus experiencing His heart and soul (mission) allows you to pour into others and speak words of life over them paving the way towards healing.

How does one circle back through that trauma to organizing a nonprofit that served our homeless population for almost three years and then transitioned into the lives of our incarcerated with all the darkness and danger?

Well, as Mother Theresa said, “I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord Himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”

Hence, where the concept of “A Beautiful You” came from.

That’s why I organized Blameless and Forever Free Ministries; it is built upon understanding that many of our incarcerated have suffered great trauma and violence themselves which doesn’t get addressed. We operate as Advocates and Ambassadors of Hope for restorative justice. 

Restorative justice is responding to crime and violence in a way that transforms the focus through A.R.T.:  Shifting punishment to responsibility (Accountability), leaning into rehabilitation and restoration (Reintegration), leading to redemption (Transformation). 

We believe all of mankind is created in God’s image; therefore, we are God’s masterpiece, His works of ART!

The greatest gift I pray you take away is how much God loves you.  He loves it when we take the time to open up His Word and snuggle in tight learning about His nature, goodness and sovereignty.  He wants to pour healing into our hearts by speaking affirmations and truths. Cleaving and pressing into the Lord escorts us into the presence of what it’s like to be truly loved!  The worth and value is overwhelming; be-loved and be-valued and be-healed!

Until next time…