According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and the International Prison Policy Initiative, while the United States represents about 4.4 % of the world’s population, it houses 22% of the world’s prisoners. In October of 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. Therefore, incarceration has become a growing reality for all our communities.
Incarcerated individuals and their families, including children and grandparents, face a shame driven alienation within community, and deeper disconnection from self, other, and in turn from God. Jesus’ primary focus is on the ethic of love, forgiveness and restorative justice. A characteristic of covenant justice, is God offering us forgiveness, not because we earned it or deserve it but because God loves us. As followers of Christ we are called to practice a compassion and love which allows for the gifts of reconnection, reconstruction, and restoration.
Prison Ministry is about being called into relationship with Christ the prisoner. Women, specifically, enter incarceration with their own gender related traumas and socioeconomic realities. It is my prayer that WE as people of God, not only enter into relationship with incarcerated women but help change the culture of incarceration itself! Based on the Thistle farms model and Thistle Farm’s Sister, Bloom Bangor Pa., we can restore our communities alongside women and their families who have paid dearly for a culture that buys and sells women as commodities.