Posts tagged ‘ohio department of rehabilitation and corrections’

July 3, 2012

Justice Advocate Stephen JohnsonGrove Speaking @ Partners with Justice (7-5-12)

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August 19, 2011

Amanda’s Tapestry: The Art of Achieving – by Deb Scott

I met Amanda when she was incarcerated in 2007 at Franklin Pre-Release Center, and she entered and completed the Vineyard Columbus mentoring program. In her words, “If I wouldn’t have had the mentoring program, I wouldn’t have had such a strong belief system.”

Amanda says that this strong belief system helped her be the strong-minded person she needed to be to re-enter the community after being incarcerated. She was released after serving five years in February 2011.

Amanda completed over 50 re-entry and rehabilitative programs while incarcerated. For example, she completed her GED and worked for four years with two off-site work programs at Ohio Penal Industries and the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Amanda also completed two years in Tapestry, a segregated therapeutic community for addicts in prison. Even though she used hertime wisely, taking advantage of every opportunity inside, as she stepped outside the walls of prison with fresh hope and in anticipation of a new start, she was not prepared for the overwhelming discouragement and frustration. She submitted 60-80 job applications with only four job interviews. Because of her felony record, Amanda said there are too few resources for jobs and housing. She found out that “…no one wants to hire a felon or rent to one because, they think you’re trouble, it’s very discouraging and frustrating. It’s hard, really hard.”

Recently, Amanda was a resident in transitional housing and she valued this post-release living environment. She believes this enabled her to make a better transition back into the community because, Amanda said, “They offered a schedule, direction and the ability to totally re-locate yourself.”

Transitional housing facilities are a great place to live, but it’s still hard. The residents are expected to get a job, but a job search requires bus fare which is expensive and most women don’t have the money necessary. Amanda was able to secure bus fare with the help of her family and church community. She acquired a job and rode the bus 1-3/4 hour with four transfers each way.  As she noticed, “A lot of women don’t have this option and they return to old places, people and things…what they know… because old ‘friends’ will give them a place to stay and a meal, but they end up back in the same lifestyle that sent them to prison in the first place.”

While in prison, Amanda finished 2-1/2 years of college but on the outside, when she applied to three different colleges, she experienced discrimination because of her felony conviction. She found college admission offices difficult to work with and very rude once they knew her past. Amanda recognized that in order to get a better job she needed more education, but if she didn’t persevere that wouldn’t happen.

Again, she saw how discouraging it was to try and better oneself after being incarcerated and understood why so many women didn’t make it on the outside. The paperwork alone is overwhelming and, she says, “You have to explain yourself 50 milliontimes as to why you did what you did.” It was her faith in and her relationship with God that reminded her of who she is now.  She says, “Good thing I know the Lord ‘cause He had plans for me that nobody else could stop.”

 

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Editor’s Note: Amanda Marks is doing very well in her new living environment. She is making positive contributions to society and re-connecting to family. RED! also acknowledges the superior work that Deb Scott does as a mentor to women incarcerated in prison in Ohio, particularly in Ohio Reformatory for Women and in Franklin Pre-Release Center.

 

March 8, 2011

PILE DRIVEN – PART IV by Brian Crawford

PILE  DRIVEN – PART IV: “Empowered by Change”

Action Words – Essay by Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

I present the new installment of my series, Pile Driven: Empowered by Change.

It’s May, 2010, and I’m now at Marion Correctional Institution. Since I last wrote “Pile Driven – Part III,” I have undergone a lot of change. My security status dropped and I was moved from one of Ohio’s toughest prisons to one of Ohio’s safest and most religious prisons. This has been after two-and-a-half years of praying that the Lord would lead me down a safe path in what has ultimately been his plan for me.

I felt upon leaving Southern Ohio Correctional Facility that my work was done. Many lives changed there as a part of the work I did for the Lord. I now leave behind many good brothers to continue the Lord’s work. As for me, I knew I had to embrace this change and the good at my new home at M.C.I.

As my feet were shackled and my hands were cuffed to my waist, I sat quietly in the back of a prison bus with tears streaming down my face as I saw God’s beauty outside the walls of Lucasville. I talked to God and asked him to one day set me free and let the truth of my innocence be known.

At that moment I also knew that I had to focus on God’s will for me at M.C.I. once I arrived. All I could think about was the chapel. After all, to me, that is the most peaceful place in prison. I had always heard so much about chapel services at M.C.I. and I was so ready to see the reality of it. In my essays, “Pile Driven #1, 2, and 3,” I spoke of the ups and downs of attendance of guys at S.O.C.F.  Many times it was dark and discouraging due to the small number of inmates attending. However, don’t get me wrong, because at times  those few guys brought so many blessings and we would worship the Lord as if there were hundreds attending.

So, then, the day was here: my first Sunday at M.C.I. chapel services. I grabbed my Bible and made my way to the chapel, feeling the butterflies in my stomach. I could hear a choir singing and music playing as I got ever so close to those double doors. Finally, I was there. I opened the doors to see a chapel packed full, wall to wall with inmates praising God, smiling, and singing.

I felt a lump in my throat as I found a seat. My emotions immediately took over as I felt the Holy Spirit. I felt as if I was home again at a regular church. The choir continued to sing and I felt free at that point and tears rolled down my face. I knew after that service that I was right on track for what God has in store for me.

Change is never easy and I’ve had many things to overcome and still deal with on a daily basis, but when each day is over I can close my eyes and say, “Thank the Lord for another day of my life and a chance to serve you.” My mission is now here at M.C.I. and there are still many out there that need to know God loves them and they can be saved. Although this innocent man that I am still suffers, I know I must embrace this change and keep living for God.

My faith is growing in my heart and mind every day. No matter where I go, I will surround myself with good and walk away from evil. Oh, it’s not all “peaches and cream.” Satan is not happy with me right now and he tries to tempt me all the time. When he does, I just smile and say, “Nice try. But you lose.” Now, of course, the devil will not stop trying to ruin my days, but I look at it this way: I’m a child of the Most High God and my God will not allow Satan to do anything to me without his permission. If something would happen I can always go back and look at what Job went through in the Bible and know it was or is a test. I will pass the test! I’m not afraid anymore!

Now, some days I watch television and I see our world heading toward Bible prophecy and I do worry. I wish many more people would give their lives to Jesus before it’s too late. I’m only one man and I know I cannot help them all, but if I can just keep proving my walk – that God is real – then I’ve done my job. I fought the good fight and will be ready to go with my Christian brothers and sisters to be with our Lord in heaven.

So, what about you? If you’re out there and you don’t know the Lord as your savior, as yourself a question: If I died today, where would I go? Some people say they don’t believe in anything, but think about it. Would you rather die believing in something and know you did good in this world, or would you want to die believing in nothing and possibly face horrible consequences in the afterlife? I think the answer is easy. If you’re out there and going through chance, then “embrace it” – put God first in your life and the rest is easy.

Thank you for reading my words in this essay and God bless you all.

Read other stories by Brian Crawford:

Pile Driven— Part I
Pile Driven—Part II
Pile Driven—Part III

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Editor’s note: visit http://www.freecrusher09.yolasite.com  for further information on supporters of Brian Crawford’s case.  Mr. Crawford has been a dedicated writer and contributor to RED! the breakthrough ‘zine since 2008. We urge you to read his other work, including parts 1,2, and 3 of his PILE DRIVEN series. He is incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution.

March 3, 2011

PARTNERS WITH JUSTICE – April 2011 Meeting

Partners with Justice (PWJ), a tremendous advocacy organization in Ohio, will hold its next monthly meeting on Thursday, April 7, 2011, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  The meeting will be held at Macedonia Living Word Fellowship Church, 353 West Kemper Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246.  Covering issues of transformation, understanding how jails and prisons operate, and encouraging individuals whose children or loved ones are incarcerated, PWJ brings hope to many lives.

RED! is a partner with Partners with Justice.  In recent weeks, co-founders John Rogers, Diane Rogers, and JoAnn Garner have spoken with editor Jeffrey Hillard at several venues.  JoAnn, whose column “Owning Justice” is a regular feature, provides much needed and anticipated updates on the PWJ’s advocacy achievements.

Currently, of course, Diane, John, and JoAnn are focused on their continuing intense efforts to expedite the appeals process of the case of their wrongfully-incarcerated son, Willie Rogers.  Willie is currently incarcerated at Warren Correctional Institution in southwestern Ohio.  His case is unique in the manner which Diane and John utilize it to help other individuals navigate the fault-ridden and rigid justice system.  And yet, Willie’s case, in the not-so-unique way, tends to echo the obvious cases of hundreds of other individuals wrongfully incarcerated in the U.S. 

For more information, call 513-365-8064, or email partnerswithjustice@yahoo.com

The organization’s website is www.partnerswithjustice.com.