Living life as a Christian in prison can be challenging. Many of these men and women find themselves isolated, in the midst of a culture that doesn’t share or reflect their values, struggling to hold onto beliefs that are constantly being challenged and ridiculed.
Animals. Subhuman. Unrepentant. Undeserving of mercy.
The perceptions that many people have of prisoners are harsh and unforgiving. They are formed by television and movies, augmented by the nightly news, and used by politicians seeking to sway voters that they are “tough on crime.” The general sense is that the men and women behind bars are there because they are unable to be a part of the larger society, and that we are all better off with them isolated from “regular people.”
This was the view of M.
Often in life, God redirects our paths using unexpected means. Robyn, a woman serving a prison sentence in California, knows this truth firsthand. God has used her prison time to build her faith more than she thought possible.
Robyn is a student in an intensive Christian leadership training program offered by Prison Fellowship at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
Every year, Prison Fellowship assists churches in ministering to the families of incarcerated parents through its Angel Tree program. Angel Tree is a ministry that reaches out to the children of prisoners and their families with the love of Christ, offering churches an opportunity to share Christ's love by serving the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.
Oklahoma incarcerates more women per capita than any other state: 142 per 100,000. About 65 percent of women there were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. And most of these prisoners are mothers.
Case in point: Samantha Houston-Brown.
An only child whose parents divorced when she was two, Houston-Brown—now 43 with children of her own—grew up feeling very much alone.
Don’t try this at home, kids.
Or do, but only if you’re feeling brave. Commissary Kitchen is one man’s practical, informative guide to all things food and politics in prison. That man—Albert “Prodigy” Johnson of the ‘90s rap duo Mobb Deep—even punctuates some of the cookbook’s recipes with, “Good luck, yo.”
Prodigy collaborated with journalist Kathy Iandoli to compose the survival guide.
Country music has a long and unique relationship with the corrections system. Several of the genre’s biggest stars served prison sentences, and have written some of their most familiar songs about their time behind bars. Legendary albums have been recorded in unique settings such as San Quentin, Folsom Prison, and Angola.
“Do you want the man getting out of prison to be in the pew next to you—or in the alley behind you?”
That was the question posed to me the other day by a prisoner I will call Tom. Tom has served over 30 years behind bars and is currently incarcerated at State Correctional Institution—Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
A man lies awake in his prison cell at night. With no light, no company, and no chance for a restful night’s sleep, he reaches for what he does have—crochet hooks and some yarn.
By morning, he has crafted a blanket.
There is a transformative power in good literature. A book can transport us to faraway places and introduce us to characters from different times and eras. It can rouse the emotions, challenge perceptions, and engage the mind in ways that few things can.