The Department of Justice Bureau reports that 30% of all criminals are readmitted within the first six months of their release, and 68% of all criminals are re-admitted within the three years of their release. Released prisoners are only given ten dollars, a white t-shirt, and a bus ticket that carries them back to where they committed their crime. Pretty soon, these former criminals are hanging out in the same environment with the same troublesome friends breaking the same laws.
However, the responsibility of helping these ex-convicts does not belong to prisons because it is not beneficial for people to be rehabilitated emotionally, mentally, and physically in a place that reminds them of how worthless they feel. Change should be driven by Christian teachings so that ex-convicts will not only learn skills, but gain a new view on life. There are halfway houses, but these only provide food and shelter, not hope. And many of them are dangerous. Where can ex-convicts get the kind of spiritual help they need to truly change their lives and avoid falling back into old habits?
One place that offers some hope is Lovelady Center. This name to some people might mean a thrift store, but it is really a rehabilitation center for women who have been incarcerated. Since it is a Christian based organization, it focuses on education and more importantly helping women heal from hurt and build a true relationship with God.
Brenda Spahn, the founder of the Lovelady Center, began with seven ex-convicts living in her home, and she started with the view that they were all cruel and heartless. However, she soon found that they were the product of deeper problems. She found that many of them were born into broken homes with drug-addicts as parents and had experienced every kind of abuse during their childhood. Brenda is now determined to show each of these ladies the love that they were never shown as a child or in their adult years which is the love of Christ.
That is the difference between halfway houses or other non-Christian rehabilitation centers and the Lovelady Center. One fails to remove the women from the violent, degrading environment while the latter takes the women out of their comfort zones and into a renewed state of mind. For this reason, Christians who are called by God to serve formerly incarcerated people should help uplift them like the administrators at the Lovelady Center have done in order to end the destructive cycle of crime and poverty.
By DeAnna Lockett, Class of 2017