Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Would you pray with us?

We know the Holy Spirit is very much involved in what we do, and we want to continually tap into our source of power. Would join with us?  It would mean so much. All we want is a way to communicate with you, lay our requests before righteous men and women who will pray for us and the needs of  prison ministries. 

Would you be willing to sign up to pray with us by email? We are trying to increase our prayer partners and feel one way to connect with you would be to send you a monthly email from our ministry. We have many prayer requests from inmates, from volunteers, the Department of Corrections and leaders of our government.

Send us your email address- Email hopeaglow@earthlink.net put PRAYER PARTNER in the subject line and we will add you to our Monthly Prayer Partner List. Thanks so much. I know it pleases our Lord when we pray. 

It will be a short email, once a month to request prayer for needs we are aware of specific to the prison ministry as it relates to sharing the gospel. We will never share, sell or giveaway your email address.You can unsubscribe at any time.

In case you haven't heard on Monday ( May 23, 2011 ) "a sharply divided Supreme Court affirmed a controversial prisoner reduction plan forced on California prison administrators that requires the state to reduce its inmate population by tens-of-thousands to ease overcrowding." Fox News

"Critics of California's prison system contend the cells are so overrun with inmates that proper care has been obliterated."  When our director heard this news he replied, " State law makers want the courts to do this. They [prisons] have no money and no back bone to handle their problems with over crowding so the law makers force it into the courts. Then they blame it on the courts because they did not have the spine to handle the problem before it became so bad. This is coming to Virginia and other states soon also. We must transform the whole system. It is a system designed for failure. We must bring all corrections back to the local community. This is the only place it can be carried out in a meaningful way. "

Garry has written an excellent article entitled,  How To Turn Inmates Away From A Life of Crime

Everyone should read it.

While crime is America's fastest "growth industry," our penal system is our least efficient industry. America's prison system has a failure rate of more than 75 percent, that is, more than 75 percent of the people released today will return to prison within three to four years. More than 50 percent will return for crimes committed within the first few months of freedom. It does not seem to matter how long a sentence a person serves, the return rate is the same. 

Any business with a product return rate that high would face stockholders demanding a change. As the "stockholders" in this "business," why have we not demanded a change? 

I believe the prison system suffers from a basic design flaw, in that it almost always removes an inmate from the local community where he is most likely to be returned upon release. This results in increased family breakdown as family members are unable to regularly travel great distances to visit. This also prevents local organizations, such as the local church, from working with the inmate to prepare him to return to society.

Projects in several states where inmates were matched up with a free "world mentor" who became his friend in prison and continued to help him upon release have shown incredible reductions in the return rates, reversing them in some cases. 

Unless a positive support system exists, both studies and experience have demonstrated that many men released from prison with nothing but good intentions, including men who have come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior while in prison, return at the same rate as the general population. There are several reasons for this, all of which could be dealt with if we were to adopt a system of community prisons. 
While in prison, an inmate loses the ability to make decision, as all decisions of any importance are made for him. I have known of men getting out after long terms who were unable to even choose what to eat from a restaurant menu. When released into a community where no one trusts them to start with, and no one is there to help with making decisions and adjustments, they soon find themselves in trouble again.
If we were to replace the current prison system with community prisons, that is, local prisons in easy reach of every community, many of the problems that lead to recidivism could be dealt with.
With local prisons, family could visit on a regular basis, keeping that support system intact. The local church would be able to invest its time and effort in the local prison, knowing that these inmates are from their community and upon release would be living in that same community. Local civic groups that already volunteer in prisons would be working with inmates who would be living in their own neighborhoods when released. 

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