c Transform Indiana... What's the latest?: June 2005

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

First Jail-break Attempt...

50 pastors & ministry leaders convened at Crossroads Bible College for the first of a series of discussions and planning sessions aimed at "Breaking Out of the Jail Cycle".

Eldon Kibbey, Transform Indiana moderator, noted that from the outset, the TI ministry networking effort has noted and prayed about impacting our community's jail-overcrowding issue... and related community impact issues. Yesterday's meeting was the first step toward bringing the collective network of concerned ministries together to chart a path toward practical ways of impacting the issues... together in the name of Christ.

Dr. Morris Jones welcomed everyone on behalf of the college, whose unique mission is notably to "Train Christian leaders to reach a multi-ethnic urban world for Christ". Dr. Jones introduced a number of staff & faculty, including Dr. John Crabtree, director of the new accelerated degree program specifically aimed at helping pastors and ministry administrators finish their college degree as quickly as possible. Hosea Baxter, the Academic Dean participated on the panel, notably to collect feedback as to how to best equip the college's 300 students to help meet urban problems related to the topic at hand. Many of the college's 'students' are already involved in area churches & ministries as seasoned pastors & leaders, now pursuing an accredited college degree.

A special panel of professionals was assembled for yesterday's meeting, including pastors, educators, jail ministry experts, community leaders, former inmates, and an official from the Indiana Department of Corrections.

Admittedly a complex issue, yesterday's focus was to provide an overture of the many facets of this issue at hand.

A recurrent message heard from pastors & former-inmates alike... "Only changed hearts can really make a real, lasting impact... and Jesus Christ is in the heart-changing business."

Doris Woodruff-Filbey from the Department of Corrections gave an overview of the situation, and discussing how pastors, churches and community leaders could get involved, citing a number of programs or resources listed at the DOC's website. She said right now the ratio of offenders-to-chaplains was appx 600:1. She also cited a number of other metrics used by the department to chart progress.

Don Hopper, Olgen Williams, Rev. Mel Jackson and Pastor William Bumphus rounded out the panel, giving their various perspectives on the issues, then answered questions from the audience, many of them also ministry leaders or former offenders.

Rev. Jackson cited the need to keep 'men' involved in their homes -- "It takes a man and a woman to properly raise a child. Once the man is out of the home, the child is more likely to get involved in gangs."

Mr. Williams went on to say, "By age 13 or 14, youth who have joined gangs have effectively conceded that they will spend a life in and out of prison. Our job is catch them before they fall prey to gangs... and eventually, hardcore prisoners. Young people think they know killers, but when they get to prison, suddenly they find the real hardcore killers have been locked up... and waiting on them."

The local prosecutor's office encouraged pastors and churches to get involved, but to also be aware of the con-games offenders play even as they go to trial... such as bringing sympathic well-meaning Christians to court knowing it will intensify pressure on victims, often young victims, who then have to testify in front of a packed courtroom.

Another point of concensus was that Christians involved in jail ministries should seek out training to help prepare them to be most effective in their various jail-related ministries.

Bottom Line:

"Most of the people I meet in prison, are
searching for someone to love them."

"And Jesus Christ is the answer you can take them,
and model for them."

Next Month, Tuesday, July 19th... Dr. John Perkins, founder of CCDA, himself a prisoner during the civil rights era of the 60's, will be in Indianapolis to be with us, and address the topic.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

June 14: "Breaking Out of the Jail Cycle"

Distinguished panel addresses breaking the cycle of jail and prison overcrowding

Indianapolis – Former Montgomery County Chief Deputy Prosecutor, Don Hopper, will lead a panel of distinguished guests in a discussion of overgrown inmate populations,

When: Tuesday, June 14
12 noon – 2 p.m., BYOLunch

Where: Crossroads Bible College
601 N. Shortridge Road

This Transform Indiana meeting hopes to identify opportunities and strategies for city government leaders and a variety of ministries working with inmates to break the cycle of ever increasing inmate populations and thereby improve the prospects for all of our lives. A question and answer session among all in attendance will follow the panel discussion.

The panelists are:

Mr. Hosea Baxter, V.P. of Academic Affairs
Crossroads Bible College

Pastor William Bumphus, Founder
Jesus Inside Prison Ministry

Reverend Melvin Jackson, Pres./CEO
Westside Community Ministries, Inc.

Mr. Olgen Williams, Exec.Director
Christamore House

Reverend Doris Woodruff-Filbey,
Acting Director of Religious Services & Community Involvement
Indiana Department of Corrections

Don Hopper is a former welfare caseworker, probation officer, criminal justice planner, practicing attorney and pastor. He is currently founder and president of Oasis Leadership Services. He has been involved in prison ministry for over 25 years.