His eyes concealed behind dark sunglasses, Chris Goehner walks into a restaurant in Washington, D.C., shadowed by his service dog, Pelé. When Chris sits, the large, sunny-coated retriever curls up on top of his feet. The restaurant employees notice Pelé and assume that Chris cannot see—until they spy him typing text messages on his cell phone.
Although people with loving, Christian parents do make choices that lead to prison, unhealthy home environments are more closely linked to criminal behavior. But why do abuse and neglect predispose children toward deviancy as adults? A major research paper sheds light on how human beings are biologically designed to seek nurturing relationships and spiritual purpose, and how the absence of these beneficial influences adversely affects brain development.
When fresh from prison, Sarah Montoya-Lewis attended church with her school-age daughter on the day of an Angel Tree backpack giveaway. She asked for a backpack for her daughter, and though none remained, Sarah left with much more—an instant friend in Angel Tree coordinator Barb Steward.
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.
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.
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.