Tag Archives: #incarcerated

Urgent Prayers Needed! COVID-19 Is Confirmed In Our California State Prisons!

Urgent Prayers Needed!

COVID-19 Is Confirmed In Our California State Prisons!

Why do we need urgent prayers covering our state prison facilities? Because COVID-19 has been confirmed in our California State Prisons.

You might not be able to see when a silent killer like COVID-19 strikes in our state prison facilities, but you can hear this epidemic coming.

Even though the individuals tested positive were correctional staff, as of March 20th, that does not mean our incarcerated are not infected. Receiving proper medical attention in prison is like stumbling upon a hidden treasure.

Ask a mother whose son has a three-centimeter mass in his breast with a family history of breast cancer…

Unless you’ve walked through our prisons personally, either through work, tours and/or detention, you have no idea how close the inmate population is to one another and how stacked on top of each other they are. This is how viral epidemics spread and kill. It’s like living in a Petri dish.

I’m going to forewarn you, the below statement is repulsive and gross, but truth is empowerment.

This is how disgustingly close our incarcerated are: When they defecate in their cell toilets, or urinate for that matter, their cellmate’s head is less than two feet from the toilet. And no, there is no wall or barrier between either.

No privacy. No protection…

Gross!!!

It’s like one person starts to cough and/or sneeze. Then a prison guard walks down the hall coughing every step they take. An inmate on the phone in the hallway coughs all over the mouth piece and wipes his nose with the hand holding onto the phone.

Germs are everywhere!

Then another inmate a couple tiers down starts to cough and before you know it, everyone is infected and there’s no escaping it in the wide-open space. Everyone is coughing, blowing their noses, spitting up phlegm. Petri dish of danger!

And if you think they’re equipped with extra bars of soap and hand sanitizer, paper towels to wipe dry their hands and dispose of, you couldn’t be further from the truth. They are only given limited bars of soap per month, and many of them use their bars of soap to wash their clothes.

Did you say wash their clothes?

Yes. If they have it laundered, most of the time they’ll never receive it back. Stolen laundry is a hot-ticketed item.

Many prisoners wash their two state-prison-issued clothing similar to Little House on the Prairie.

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries illustrating inmates washing clothes in state prison

There is absolutely no way to participate in social distancing in our state prisons. They are literally on top of one another.

When they eat, they’re like a can of sardines packed together. They share trays AND food. They shower together without any separation. And with being in lockdown, it allows the contamination to spread through open air and tight spaces.

When they’re in lockdown, it does not keep them safe. It’s a cesspool of toxins.

You CANNOT ISOLATE over 2.3 million incarcerated beloveds from one another to contain and keep this virus from spreading, much less have adequate medical teams and/or facilities to treat those who will inevitably become infected.

Please pray for our prison population; they’re someone’s son, like mine…

Until next time…

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Responds to COVID-19

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Tammy Ingram Founder responds to COVID-19

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Responds To COVID-19

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries continues to keep a close eye on the COVID-19 virus and its active spread. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) provide more information and updates on the coronavirus and its increase in spread, Blameless and Forever Free Ministries has canceled and postponed all upcoming events scheduled up through May 1, 2020.

With the CDCR placing all California State Prisons under lockdown, if you have further concerns or questions regarding COVID-19, you may contact the CDCR through email at COVID19@cdcr.ca.gov and they will direct all inquiries to the appropriate division.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has issued a COVID-19 Preparedness as follows:

As of March 17, 2020, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within CDCR institutions.

“Effective March 18, no volunteers or rehabilitative program providers will be allowed to enter state prison until further notice.

All rehabilitative programs, group events, and in-person education classes are cancelled.

The Office of Correctional Education is working to provide in-cell educational programs so as to not interrupt educational credit-earning.

The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) will postpone all parole suitability hearings through March 20.

All Interstate Compact Agreement transfers of out-of-state parolees or inmates to California will cease for 30 days.

CDCR has activated an email box, COVID19@cdcr.ca.gov, to answer questions from the public, employees, and stakeholders related to COVID-19. This email address will be monitored and questions will be directed to the appropriate divisions.

CDCR’s inmate telephone network provider Global Tel Link (GTL) has offered the adult incarcerated population two days of free phone calls: from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 19, and 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 26. The youth within the Division of Juvenile Justice already receive free phone calls.”

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Tammy Ingram Founder Hebrews 13.3

Please continue to pray for those incarcerated, their families and our correctional staff.

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries will continue to monitor any and all updates and keep you informed.

Until next time…

At least we have some good news: As of March 17, 2020, there are currently no “confirmed” cases of COVID-19 within CDCR institutions. Thank you, Jesus!

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries Tammy Ingram Foundet

Courage To Speak Up For Those Forgotten…

Social Justice Is…

Having Courage To Speak Up For Those Forgotten…

Being a catalyst of change requires strong influencers who stand on lasting values that the good news of the gospel presents.

God’s Great Love Changes Everything!

Bringing my Lord’s presence into a domain (prisons) that the enemy has held captive for centuries is daunting, but worthy of the challenge because after meeting hundreds of prisoners, they’re beloveds just like you and me who have made horrible mistakes and deserve a second chance.

This is why Blameless and Forever Free Ministries has transitioned over to the reentry side and will open up a center to help returning citizens succeed.

Most prisoners develop a deep and sincere desire to change their life circumstances through hope and motivation from family and/or religion. Focusing on this link and alternatives opens many doorways of opportunities in having goals filled with lifestyle changes.

“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.”

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Prisons are set up for punishment, profit and containment. Prisoners need hope, motivation and rehabilitation.

Could you be caged up like an animal and live in close quarters with hundreds, if not thousands, of others and accept being told what to do, what to eat, what to wear, when to sleep, when to wake up, when to work, when to shower and when to talk to loved ones on the phone, while being surrounded by criminal conduct and make sound decisions once released?

You might begrudgingly say they’re lucky to have a cage to live in and food in their bellies after committing their crime, but…

How is that teaching them the power to rewrite their stories, you know, through recasting the drama and redirecting their actions?

Having the opportunity to impact their lives is the greatest reward possible and one in which requires softening up great opposition.

Discrimination, racism and negative social policies and laws have labeled returning citizens “once a felon, always a felon.” This caters to the belief and reason why our recidivism rates are so high.

When we force our returning citizens into this category, we wonder why they recommit and/or become homeless.

We are what we believe, and when we’re told over and over that we’re bad and menaces to society, it’s no wonder we find ourselves living under the spell of deceit and lies.

Good decision-making skills requires options. Surviving in prison surrounded by criminal conduct pretty much means association with the wrong crowd. It’s hard to make good choices when there are minimal options available to us. That requires many opportunities.

Prisons are full of beloveds who lack support, encouragement and visitation from loved ones.

Could you sustain hope and peace of mind without a covering of love?

When I was rejected and unloved, my decision-making skills needed help, too. Every decision I made was based on fear. That’s all I knew.

When you’re surrounded by criminal conduct, and most decisions are already laid out for you, without a covering of love, there is no hope or reason to strive forward in making changes.

Strong support and dedication is a rare and unique gift of hope that all incarcerated need.

Reentry process is more like a survival process. Survival of the fittest! This is why it’s imperative to surround ourselves with people who are going to lift us higher.

How can we expect our returning citizens to be productive members of society when we judge, ridicule and turn our backs on them? That doesn’t influence them to become better individuals, become assets to our communities or even make our communities safer.

Unconditional acts of kindness and love opens doorways to new lives and behaviors.

During times of challenge, frustration and failure, knowing that someone believes in you helps you try again. Introducing others to the love of Jesus provides this comfort in faith.

Every day we have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Replacing discrimination with rehabilitation and hate with love will restore precious lives and teach us a thing or two about ourselves, too.

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries understands returning citizens, I am more than my mistakes.

Prisoners need society to understand, I am more than my mistakes!

Until next time…

Returning Citizens…

What Are Returning Citizens?

Good question! Returning citizens are beloveds reentering society, our communities, from their time served being incarcerated.

Time to make a change!

Since returning citizens are reentering society after serving time for their crime, creating safer and stronger communities must become a top priority for the success of their reentry and reintegration.

Successful reentry and recidivism is dependent upon a community-centered approach that requires bridging the gap between church and state; community organizations and governmental entities.

Who cares…

Everyone should!

Why should we concern ourselves with those who are a menace to society and who obviously didn’t care about following the rules and broke the law?

Walking alongside of those who have done time for their crime helps facilitate success promoting rehabilitation and sound decision-making skills for securing employment and being productive members of society.

They have paid their debt back to society through the punishment received in serving prison time.

We all want safer communities, right?

We all benefit when our returning citizens who leave prison have an education, a chance at higher education, a good job and a place to live.

Being productive members of society, it helps drive down future costs of corrections, reduces the crime rate, most definitely helps improve public safety, but it’s building a sense of community that our returning citizens need for lasting success.

Everyone needs and deserves to be surrounded with love and support! Re-offenders lack relationships, so it bodes well for all of us to walk alongside of them by not discriminating, but instead through rehabilitation.

Our returning citizens have been isolated for the most part during their incarceration and reminding them that they’re supported by their communities confirms that we want them to succeed. This introduces them to support and offers encouragement that they’re on the right path and there’s no longer any need to go through life alone without accountability.

Generous hearts believe that today’s offender will become tomorrow’s neighbor, so embracing our returning citizens by coming alongside of those who are exiting the criminal justice system provides the greatest opportunity for success.

We all have choices and love not only transforms from the inside out, but it leads to action.

Teaching others the value of walking together so that the world can believe in the power of God’s Great Love (John 17:23) is vital to a dignified life.

With advocacy and justice being at the very core of who God is, our prisons can no longer be considered a place solely to punish and reject. We must meet our offenders right where they’re at reconciling them to God.

We can’t just pretend to love others. We have to really love them! Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good (Romans 12:9).

After all, recidivism promotes public safety, builds stronger communities while strengthening collaboration with other agencies.

We’re better together!

Reentry provides those in our criminal justice system with a path towards becoming productive members of society after they have served time for the crimes committed.

Embracing Freedom Without Stigma!

If our Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom, it embodies hope and opportunities for those seeking a better life in America. Liberty and justice for all represents that the most basic human dignity starts with the land of second chances.

Statue of Liberty in New York City

Inspiring Second Chances Filled With Hope and Opportunity!

Until next time…

God Sees Beyond Our Right Now…

God Sees Beyond Our Right Now

When life isn’t exactly how we pictured it would be…

Facing seasons of disappointment and despair can leave us feeling isolated and alone.

Encouraging and inspiring our incarcerated can be a daunting lifestyle, but they deserve an outpouring of God’s Great Love.

Meeting our prisoners right where they’re at, determined not to leave them shackled in shame and guilt, surrounded by nothing but criminal conduct, is a priceless gift of Love.

It’s challenging to understand that during these grave times, being in a pit of hell, there are others in similar situations who have gone before us…

When you’re considered “incorrigible,” a “burden” or “a menace to society,” impervious to restraints and punishment, it’s hard to react/respond against this branding, this labeling, cauterized deep into one’s soul and flesh.

And we are, after all, a byproduct of our environment…

Discouragement leads to death and destruction. Being near the edge of the pit serves as a constant reminder that its edges of hell will swallow and take down those who dare come close.

Our incarcerated can only see and hear what’s inside their prison walls. They’re a number, not a person. It’s dark and it’s dangerous. It’s not filled with life and/or rehabilitation. It’s filled with segregated gangs; your color and ethnicity matters because that pre-determines your space, affiliation and housing and HIGHLY INFLUENCES what you learn and become.

But our Beautiful Jesus resides inside prisons and He reminds us through awareness that re-offenders lack relationships.

What would your faith look like if God said to you what He specifically spoke to my heart, There’s an amazing door of opportunity standing wide open for you [me] to minister here, even though there are many who oppose and stand against [you] me (1 Corinthians 16:9 TPT)?

Truly, God spoke those very words to my heart.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

As Christians, we are commanded to stand with the oppressed and fight injustice. What kind of Christians are we; ones with selective obedience accommodating our facades or are we, as a community, going to start loving more and rebuking division and strife like we’re commanded?

It’s not about us! Relationships matter. Re-offenders lack relationships!

Addressing our high recidivism rates requires programming and services essential to decrease the re-offender rates and foster successful community reentry. Reducing recidivism will benefit both our offenders and our communities.

When I personally think of despair and discouragement, I am reminded of Joseph in the Bible who had ample reason to be discouraged and knew what longstanding imprisonment offered.

Joseph endured the death of his mother, along with the conspiracy and hatred from his brothers.

Can you imagine the gut-punching torturous blow in being cast into a pit and then sold into slavery?

That’s unfathomable sibling rivalry.

Then to face imprisonment due to false accusations, OMG!!!

I don’t know about you, but my abandonment issues seem rather inconsequential.

Being molded by pain along with having a personal, intimate knowledge and relationship with God, allows us to survive and prosper where most would fail.

Being betrayed and deserted by family undoubtedly leaves deep emotional wounds that only God could graciously heal. Add in a long incarceration, being punished for doing what’s right, Joseph was even forgotten by those he helped.

But God doesn’t forget because He resides inside our prisons and knows what is on the other side of our circumstances.

Joseph’s life is one of God’s most powerful and miraculous stories of what redemption offers. Even saving his offensive family during the famine.

My heart of hearts believes that our beautiful Jesus wants to transform our deep losses and grave disappointments the same way He did for Joseph. God can and will make a way.

I don’t know about you, but I have decided to be a “Doer” of the Word and not just a “Hearer” that James 1:22 talks about.

Blameless and Forever Free Ministries believes God allows crises or shows us problems so we can be part of the solution.

Relevant truth for today: Where we are RIGHT NOW is not our final destination, nor is it for our incarcerated.

Looking through the lens of God’s Great Love, we are able to believe that what lies ahead on the other side of our circumstances is greater strength and victory.

One bad circumstance leading to reintegration.

No story is beyond redemption.

We can’t overcome what we don’t confront.

Living for a cause greater than myself reminds me to maintain the rights of the oppressed that Psalm 82:3–4 expresses. This passion was birthed by a personal crisis which led to a bigger cause.

We need to prioritize what matters. It’s not so much about the events or the many circumstances of life, but our response to them. Our incarcerated haven’t responded appropriately and when they get out of prison after serving time for their crime, they will repeat if we do not intervene and start rehabilitating them while incarcerated.

The most important thing I pray our hearts remember, once our returning citizens are back into society, we need to be prepared to disciple them, encourage them and surround them with love while walking alongside of them. Being prepared to help, not discriminate, will ensure safer communities and society assets.

Until next time…

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.

Click here to continue reading more…

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