Tag Archives: #prisoners

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

 

When Faith Is All You Have To Hold Onto!

When Faith Is All You Have To Hold Onto!

Sitting numb with fear, I gasp for air as if I’ve forgotten how to breathe.  I regurgitate, “I can’t breathe,” but no one hears my pleas for help.

To say I cried me a Noah’s Flood would be an understatement!

Adrenaline floods my system and surges like it’s trying to escape.  Tears of anguish leave me trembling.  My slumped posture screams defeat.

As I hugged myself through the confusion of the courtroom, my bundle of joy was swaddled away in handcuffs.  Unable to flee the situation, shock ricochets up his spine.  It was almost as if you could smell burning flesh.

The puffy face and eyes were a dead giveaway to the verdict and the pain projecting from my body.  The bailiff hands me a box of tissue; he knew one or two wouldn’t do through the many issues.

This is when you doubt what you were once so secure in!

Doing Time With God!

No one is prepared to lose a loved one.  More excruciating, parents are never prepared when their child becomes incarcerated.  The loss is compelling, lamenting the death of their future seems almost self-serving, even selfish.  But it is a death, a loss of hope and dreams, with an evil twist of life.  And oftentimes, it delivers more grief due to the shunning and loss of relationships.

As a victim of abuse and addiction, orphaned and tossed to and fro, add in depression and suicidal tendencies along with being a domestic violence survivor, these traumas have strengthened me and molded me into the beloved I am today.

But when my son was arrested, my heart was never prepared to undergo this battlefield, this loss, the stigma and longstanding costs; spiritual, emotional, relational, financial and physical.  These costs were associated with an event reiterating a generational stronghold of rage in need of being severed instead of being swept underneath the rug.

Scurrying up the strength to share my grief and remove the veil of shame I was hiding behind, one by one people started trickling away when they heard my son got into a fight and was doing time for his crime. 

Oh, how they hounded me and became my best friend only to hear the news flash. 

Once I opened up my heart, it was as if I had the plague…

I was ousted. 

The tragedy of it all, friends and family trickled away, leaving both my son and I unsupported and completely alone, but…

We were both doing time with God!

Family member’s searing attacks vomit, “I don’t give a shit about you.  I’m not coming to support you, I’m coming to do something about this.”

As if my 24-hour days weren’t enough…

That’s called performance-based love, bordering more along the lines of abuse.

Where’s the love in that statement?

Sadly, their “concerns” were full of hot air and never materialized into even a visit with my son.  Maybe it was better they didn’t communicate with him since their actions supported similar conduct as to why he was incarcerated than support filled with needed love, hope and patience.

Why is it people try to make you feel guilty and blame you for their own behaviors and actions?

I hope and pray I’ll always be able to own up to my mistakes while forgiving others for theirs…

Prisoners of Hope!

Being a prisoner of hope, seeing light despite the darkness, is helping me pour love into my son’s emotional wounds. I know what it’s like to make mistakes and be abandoned because of them.  Being wrapped in unconditional love and offered a second chance to start over is a treasure worth digging for.

Physical violence has no place in my life, God’s Great Love overrides any mistakes and bad choices one makes. Rebuilding my son will take a lifetime, but we’re all works-in-progress anyways, right?

When faith is all you have to hold onto, you continue to see how God restores and turns even our most painful trials into good. 

God ended up being my ever-present, faithful and dependable friend that held me and carried me through the roughest few years I have ever walked through. Without His Love, I would have isolated, become depressed and probably fallen into addictive behaviors (Jesus Juice ♥) when all hell was breaking loose. 

Through His amazing grace, I was able to press through and become a justice ambassador with marching orders to speak life that restores those incarcerated. 

After all, my God changes things…

This mess will be more than a message!

How do you cope all alone underneath all the shaming and rejection delivered by the world?

Acknowledging our Lord is with us holding our hand, never leaving nor forsaking us, empowers us with confidence to receive this gift that keeps on giving which overflows into our children. They’ll experience relentless, unconditional love! Love never stops loving!

Those who are loved by God, let His love continually pour from [them] to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of Him (1 John 4:7 TPT).

The God of all comfort broke through and transformed all my wailing into a whirling dance of praise!

Seemingly insurmountable challenges are the breakfast of champions for three years, two months, and ten days. But who’s counting?

A Mother’s Love Never Gives Up…

Do you know how hard it is to love when you’ve never experienced it before?

Mighty waves of restoration crashed upon me causing me to be stronger than ever before along with stepping into increase filled with life and love.  God’s love is enthralling.

Lifting up my eyes and looking about kept me from turning inward, focusing on myself and my suffering.  Pain is demanding, often suffocating.  It’s hard to believe that God is doing something in and through our lives when they’re riddled with pain, but that’s the blessing when faith is all you have to hold onto!

Until next time…