Tag Archives: #stateprison

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…

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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