What a visit to the state prison taught me (Part 1 of 2)

Written by on August 28, 2013

Prison outreach Aug 22 2013I walk through the front door of the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. Will it be like jails I’ve seen on TV and in the movies?

Thursday night at 5:45, five Writers Connection authors, including director Cornelia Seigneur and I, stuff our personal belongings into small lockers. Then we drop shoes, watches, and keys onto a conveyor belt that slides them beneath a security x-ray machine just like you see at airports. Cracked gray walls and dingy concrete floors mark the path from one security checkpoint to another. Bars after bars. Cages after cages.

We make our way into a cafeteria-like room with long rectangular tables. The perimeter of the room is lined with offices for on-site clubs like Toastmasters, Asians and Lifers. Every section is boxed-in with cages. I take a few deep breaths to shake off the steadily-climbing heat and tug on my shirt collar. I push down a wave of claustrophobia. Seventy men in denim take seats at the tables.

At the 7th Step Foundation meeting, we Christian authors share essays about the grace of Christ. When I speak,  my humor draws a laugh with Hamster Chutes, Lightning Bolts and Ostriches. All the writers take awards (mine wins Member’s Choice—yay!).

After the meeting, we mingle. I visit with some of the inmates. Prisoners Calvin and Ron share their stories. I ask, “How is God using incarceration to mature you?”

Friend, what do you think Calvin and Ron say?

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Comments
  1. Bonnie   On   August 28, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I think that Calvin and Ray both said that they had time to reflect on there life and how they got to where they are now.

    They have plenty of time to soul search and read. If they said they have read the bible, they have come to know Jesus.
    Then they no they have a purpose and meaning to there lives.
    By being sorry for what they have done and having forgiveness, people change for the better.

    • Lynn Hare   On   August 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Bonnie, I love your insights. Part 2 will tell more about what Calvin & Ron said.I love your thoughts about having time to soul search & seek the truth. Stay tuned.

  2. Jeannie a. brown   On   August 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    No dingy floor, gray cracked walls, or bars or cages can keep out the beauty, and freedom that the precious Lord Jesus will bring to broken hearts. Our son is in S.R.C.I and he trusts Jesus daily as he goes to the phone bank to make appointments for roof replacement and repair. Other inmates ask how he gets a higher percentage of positive responses, and he says : I trust Jesus everyday to help me. Why don’t you pray and ask him to help you.
    Love to all,
    Jeannie

    • Lynn Hare   On   September 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Jeannie, I love what you said about no bars keeping out the beauty and freedom of Christ! Your son LIVES the good news.I love that he gets so many positive responses for his calls. How fantastic that he asks other inmates if they’ll pray and ask Jesus to help them, too! Way to go!

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