Prison Fellowship has relaunched Inside Journal, a newspaper that reaches thousands of incarcerated men and women with the hope of the Gospel. With a starting circulation of 50,000 copies, Inside Journal has a new look after a hiatus in its publication, but it retains the elements that made it a widely read and admired resource in our nation’s prisons for nearly two decades.
When asked to describe his volunteer work at a local pre-release center, Beaver Hardy, 71, issues his usual warning: “If you come, you’re going to get hooked, and you’re going to stay.”
Beaver Hardy, 71, is savoring his share of fried flounder.
Debbie Walsh cannot remember the first time she met volunteer Robert Ramos. But that, she says, merely demonstrates his soft-spoken, unassuming demeanor. When this former prisoner shared his testimony during Operation Starting Line (OSL) in-prison evangelistic events, “men and women listened intently,” says OSL organizer Debbie, “for his story was told in a straightforward, unembellished way.”
On Father’s Day in America, the tangy smoke of barbecue will float over countless backyards. Young daughters and sons will present their fathers with hugs, homemade cards, and breakfast in bed. But for over one million children of incarcerated men, one thing will be missing: Dad.
For many of the 700,000 prisoners released to American neighborhoods each year, the return to society looks bleak. After months or years in an environment prone to eroding decision-making skills, many will take their bus fare and the clothes on their backs and head straight back to familiar territory: addictions, broken relationships, and crime.
“I don’t think you and I can understand the pull of the world on these guys when they get out,” says Dan Pearson, a Prison Fellowship volunteer and a 70-year-old grandfather from Grand Rapids, Michigan. “They are like children—giddy.” But after the thrill of freedom come the challenges of reintegration.