Promoting love behind bars

The United States is No. 1 in a lot of categories, but being first because of the number of people in our prison population is nothing to be proud of. We have 4 percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of the prisoners. That’s simply too many.

Regardless of how you feel about crime and punishment, keeping people out of prison ought to be a priority.

48% of prisoners don’t receive a regular visit or mail
94% of those in prison have some sort of addiction

Children of prisoners:
chance of ending up in prison too
4x more likely to be involved in criminal activity

Fortunately, it’s top of mind for Major Tom Ford, territorial correctional secretary—the leader of prison ministries  for The Salvation Army in the Western U.S.

It’s not that prison ministry is his passion; introducing people to Jesus is his passion. Especially people in prison.

“I want them to experience all that God has for them,” Ford said. “I don’t want them to miss out.”

Statistics show that individual faith-based mentoring programs drop the recidivism rate (the proportion of those who return to a criminal lifestyle and eventually prison) down to between 14-25 percent. It’s that kind of statistic that proves Ford is on the right track.

Mario’s story (shown in the video above) is the perfect example.

His conversion came after sitting in a prison cell, bored out of his mind. The only thing in that cell was the Bible left behind by the older couple who came every Sunday to lead a study and tell the prisoners that they loved them. Because of their presence, Mario picked up the Bible and started to read.

Through mentoring and visitation, Bible study correspondence, and support for inmate’s families, Ford hopes to help many more people like Mario.

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Kathy Lovin

Kathy Lovin is the public affairs and communications manager in The Salvation Army USA Western Territory.