Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"I'm scared to get out."

I don't know the answer. But I know there's a problem. And I've heard it before, more than once, just on Wednesday it was a new face that was saying it. 

I was meeting with the inmates before leaving for Baton Rouge for Thanksgiving. They were wishing me a happy and safe holiday and reminding me (for them) to eats lots of turkey. I left the prison in a bitter-sweet mood. I seriously love those ladies! And hated leaving them! I knew that as much as I looked forward to Thanksgiving and to celebrating with my family, they wanted to go home too and celebrate with theirs. I tried to imagine it, but couldn't, the thought of missing the holidays with family year after year after year for a whole lot of years. I can't imagine every year (some over a decade, some more than one) longing to go home... but knowing I couldn't. I know they committed the crime that put them there, but still that's a hard reality to swallow, a harsh punishment to endure.... especially when they're not the same person they were when they did the thing that they did. I know they should have weighed the cost earlier and considered the consequences.... but sadly, most don't.

While sitting there with them right before leaving, one lady told me, I want to go home. I bet she does. I know I would too. And then she said, "I want to go home, but I'm scared to get out. I've been here so long, as much as I want to, I'm scared to, all I know now is here."

Wow. I've heard about them being imprisoned so long that they become institutionalized. As much as they want their freedom, prison has become their way of life. They wouldn't know what to do, where to go, how to start. And starting from the beginning is not easy for anybody. But starting over again with nothing at all and so much already against them... many no home, no friends, no job, no income, no family to go back to...... What do you do when you leave with only the clothes on your back and $10 given to you upon your release from the system?

God loves the broken-hearted, the poor, the sinner, those with a contrite heart, the captive............ Do you?


Do you love them enough to help them? Because in reality, they really, really, really need for somebody to.

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