Sunday, February 13, 2011

'Beyond Scared Straight' Where is Jesus in our Prisons? Part 1

“I, the Lord have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:6-7)

“Line up right here!” Get in a straight line!” “Do what I tell you to do!” “When you hear the code 2 alarm, crouch down on the ground, and don’t move!” screamed a prison guard to about 10 teenage boys who were visiting San Quentin State Prison in California, a historic prison known for housing the most violent criminals in the country.
       In horror, I watched Beyond Scared Straight, the hour-long documentary series on A&E that follows inmate-run intervention programs that exposes at-risk teens to the realities of life behind bars. 
       These particular teens were participating in the Squires program, a juvenile delinquency deterrence program that brings delinquent youth to San Quentin Prison to speak to inmates and witness firsthand the horrors of life in jail.
       The teens were there because they’ve disrespected authority at home and in school, sold drugs, robbed and assaulted innocent people, stole cars, and used drugs.
       My heart went out to them because many came from broken homes, were simply misguided, and were seemingly without hope. But what was even more shocking were the conditions at San Quentin State Prison.
       The prison environment at San Quentin is hostile, violent and chaotic at best. Fear, anxiety, anger, wrath, and rage are the predominant emotions. Inmates scream and yell obscenities for sport within their cells. You can be killed, beaten, and maimed any minute of the day. Rape, murder, and assault are commonplace.
       My question is why? Why? A naive question I know. But I just don’t understand it.
       I know prison ministries exist, but from the looks of things they don’t seem to have as big of an impact as the Kingdom of God should have on the kingdom of darkness. I’ve heard that people get saved in prison and turn their lives around, but it seems as though Satan and his kingdom rule and reign. So I ask, “Where is Jesus in the prison system? Where is He? The prisoners, guards, and the administrators need the Lord of Glory badly.

Prayer: Lord, please have mercy on those young teens who are witnessing firsthand the harsh realities of prison life, and help them turn their lives around before it’s too late. And may your powerful Holy Spirit permeate the hearts, minds, and souls of all the prison inmates, guards and administrators in America and abroad, in your Name we pray, amen!


  1. One of my favorite stories to come out of prison is this one:
    Warning: guaranteed to bring a few tears. I wish that this were instituted everywhere...alls I know is there is evil in the world and when you lock that up it doesn't go away BUT for the true light of the world...Jesus.

  2. Hi Judy,

    Prison Fellowship is a ministry program I'm familiar with and have been involved with in the past. Today, many state correction agencies restrict Christian ministry access and programs. The emphasis is to keep prison outreach programs secular.

    They refer to these places as correctional facilities, but in essence, they are nothing more than a place of incarceration; there is no corrective effort undertaken.

    Thank you for sharing your heart on this topic. For men and women to really experience correction, it will take Christians comitted to share the salvation message of love and grace in Christ.

    Sending you and family a Happy Valentine's Day.

    Blessings and peace.


  3. Amen.

    I find it difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that these people are sent to prisons of this kind and are expected to functional normally in society when they come out.

    God bless those ministries who endeavor to reach out.

  4. Thanks everyone for commenting.

    @MTJ ... I went to the prison fellowship web site and read a story and watched a video. Brought tears to my eyes. I love hearing powerful testimonies about how God has worked in the lives of the lost and who came from perilous circumstances. Maybe one day I will be able to minister to those in prison. I think it'd be something I'd like to do.

    Thanks for sharing the reasons why prisons are the way they are. I didn't know that Christian programs were restricted that much. Christ is the only one who can change a person's heart. Change the heart and the entire environment changes.


  5. @Kim ... I watched the video you shared about the Malachi dads. Loved it. God can bless you anytime, anywhere no matter what your circumstances. Just awesome!

    Thanks for sharing that.


  6. I've watched that show, too. It IS very scary. And I too, feel very sorry for the kids that are there. Some of them just never had a chance with their terrible upbringing and circumstances. What really made me sad, though, was the followup to their stories. Some of them went RIGHT back to their bad habits and associations. I wanted to grab them - it was like looking at a train on the wrong track - I wanted to stop the wreck that was coming.

    I have a friend who is involved in prison ministry - and he does a great work. It's definitely an uphill battle, but God is able to do miracles. I join in your prayers that God will begin to work mightily in the lives of those who are physically incarcerated - for in truth, it is their souls that are imprisoned.

    GOD BLESS, Judy!

  7. Awww... this is so heartbreaking! Our church has a ministry where we send ziplock bags with a dozen homemade cookies into prisons (they collect a bag for every prisoner before they send them so there's no fighting... one time we collected 4,000 bags!). I love that... we're not sending them necessities or bible tracks but just showing them love and sending them something they'll enjoy!!

    Thanks for coming by my blog. My book is released so you can get it on Amazon (search "Christian Mama's Guide") and at Barnes & Noble (most stores and online). On March 1st, it'll be available at Books-a-million and Family Christian Stores. Good luck!

  8. judy!
    what a caring heart you have. may almighty God use that for the expansion of His kingdom.
    i don't wanna even pretend to know the answers. it is truly baffling how screwed up the world has become.
    i wrote on this subject a few months back as it really bothered me. AND i can't even identify with the world you describe.
    may God save the lost behind bars! and those of us who are lost on the outside!
    here was my similar take on it.
    this doesn't suggest that this is the answer in complete to your question. i am still a work in progress and thinking about this too.
    God bless you.
    nikonsniper steve


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