Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Harsh Words for a Harsh Reality: Interview with Bondage Breakers, Inc. CEO, Dr. Alicia Malone"

During the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Mr. Arthur H. Garrison, of Garrison Consulting, LLC presented a research paper entitled, “Disproportionate Minority Confinement: A Historical Look at Racial Incarceration.”

His research concludes the following…

In 1999, one in every 29 African American males was sentenced to at least a year’s confinement, compared with one in every 75 Hispanic males, and one in every 240 white males. In more than a dozen states, a convicted felon loses the right to vote – for life. Thirty-two states prohibit offenders on probation or parole from voting. As a result, nearly 4 million Americans, one in fifty adults, is barred from voting. Of these, 1.4 million are African American,accounting for 13 percent of the black male population.

He further states…

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Prison
Inmates at Midyear 2007 report, compared to the estimated
numbers of black, white, and Hispanic males in the U.S.
resident population, black males are six times and Hispanic males are two times more likely to be held in custody than white males
(pages 2-3, American Society of Criminology 2008 Annual Meeting paper, St. Louis, MO November 12-15, 2008).

The above stated findings provide a glimpse of some tragic realities. The “Prison Industry” in America is an unjust and heinous system that perpetuates familial dysfunction, poverty and imprisonment. In this our final segment focusing upon clergywomen in prison Ministry, the Rev. Dr. Alicia Malone, CEO/Executive Director of Bondage Breakers, Inc. reflects upon the systemic inequities and voices righteous indignation. Bondage Breakers, Inc., is a prison ministry dedicated to offering practical, spiritual, economic and educational assistance to ex-offenders and their families. Bondage Breakers, Inc. has several ministries, including a mentoring program, employment training and assistance, and an academic scholarship program for children of incarcerated parents. The organization is comprised of church volunteers throughout Summit County.

Shepastor Interview with
The Reverend Dr. Alicia Malone
Founding Executive Director,
Bondage Breakers, Inc.
Akron, Ohio

Tell us how you became involved in prison ministry and in what capacities have you served regarding this ministry.

I initially became involved in 1982 under the Way Out Prison Ministry under the directorship of Esley Patch. I volunteered for the GED Program at the Summit County Jail. My heart was deeply moved by the lack of education and interest of education within the incarcerated population. Eight years later, the Lord called me into Prison Ministry on a much larger scale.

Explain the concept of “pipeline to prison” in America

Not having done much research in this area, “pipeline to prison,” from a common sense standpoint, one can discern that prison, the industry that it is, is an opportunity for the nation’s states to become rich. Another factor I have always held is that this “pipeline” is a post-modern “slavery” and in many ways defeats or deflates many of the earnest and valiant plights presented during the Civil Rights era.

How does this impact individuals, families and communities?

The impact upon individuals, families and communities is continued fragmentation, break down of the family structure and a continual worsening of their condition. Today’s perpetual societal dysfunction as relates to the prison system makes it so. The dysfunction persists because of the biased legislation process. In other words systems and laws have been put in place to control and continue disproportional minority incarcerations. Let me say it this way - many of our young men and women are being incarcerated for crimes that call for “treatment” not physical incarceration. Today, any and almost everything, from driving under suspension to driving with an open container can land a person in prison. There is something grossly wrong with this picture, in my opinion.

How can clergy help?

Clergy can help by first, stop ignoring and denying the realities of prison, incarceration, broken, dysfunctional families in our congregations. Jesus ministered to those “broken, dysfunctional” persons in his day i.e. Simon the leper, the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years. We, Clergy, don’t need to hide behind a cloak of religiosity, we need to emulate our Savior and become revolutionist.

How can churches help?

Churches can get behind existing organizations, like Bondage Breakers, Inc. and make them a line item in their overall Church Budget. If Churches would commit $100.00 a month to organizations who are “on the front line doing prison ministry” those organizations would not have to vie for State dollars (to address a state problem). As a church and organization leader, I have sent out verbal pleas to many churches with a very minimal response. What I have learned in the 20 years of ministry to the least of these (Matthew 25:41), is that many churches are very apathetic regarding the realities of prison ministry. If a situation does not appear to affect them, it has been my experience, that they (churches) show little to no interest in assisting, emulating Christ in the fullness of the Gospel.

What guidance would you give to individuals desiring to get involved in prison ministry?

The initial word of advice I would give to anyone is: “make certain that you are called into this arena.” There is nothing more damaging to an inmate than for a person to come “look and see” but really are “detached” in terms of the heart of their matter. I pray you do not mind my being candid. If there is a sincere calling and you have your church’s support, start with the Pastor and official board. Let them bring it to the congregation and make sure you are budgeted from within the house of God. At the inception of Bondage Breakers, Inc. that is exactly what my Pastor Dr. Arthur E. Kemp did. He made certain that transportation was made available for us. He also provided gas and revenue for a light lunch after the services concluded. Prison Visitation Ministry is at least a 12 hour day; this includes travel time, the service time, and the return trip home. For those who do not aspire to minister inside the walls, there are many “outside the wall” services that can be rendered. One still must discern the call!

Micah 6:8 declares, “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
For more information about Bondage Breakers, Inc. or to contact Dr. Malone write, P.O. Box 8328 Akron, Ohio 44320; (330) 867-2325.

Your thoughts? Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Anointed to Set Captives Free: Interview With The Reverend Julia Moses"

This past summer, we were blessed by today’s minister on the topic of Ageism. Being a woman of many gifts and talents, God has also used her in another area of ministry – prison ministry. We share her testimony and insights below…

A sad reality of the prison industry is the incarceration of children. Youth detention centers become the entrance for the broader prison system. Jesus declared that the Spirit of the Lord anointed Him to, among other things, “set the captives or prisoners free (Luke 4:18).” Our featured clergywoman for today sought to do just that in her work within the juvenile detention center and ministry to females in prison. From 1988-1997 The Reverend Julia Moses served as the Superintendent of the Youth Development Center in Hudson, Ohio. There God used her as a beacon of hope, light, life and love to young people headed towards destruction.

Shepastor Interview with
The Reverend Julia Moses
Retired Superintendent, The Youth Development Center
Hudson, Ohio

Tell us how you became involved in prison ministry and in what capacities have you served regarding this ministry.

In the month of May, 1988, I was employed by the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, as a Labor Relations Specialist. The duties of this office included conducting disciplinary hearings for employees at various agencies, and determining what administrative action should be meted out to employees for various offenses of misconduct in the workplace.

In the midst of preparing for an upcoming hearing in my office, I was informed by the secretary that a visitor was in the waiting room, and wanted to talk to me. Hurrying to get my paperwork together, I briefly stuck my head in the room. I was greeted by a man who introduced himself as the Director of the Department of Justice Affairs. He went on to state that he had a position open in his department for a person who would be the Superintendent of the Youth Development Center, in Hudson Ohio. He asked if I would be interested. I was in fact familiar with the establishment, since I conducted many disciplinary hearings there. After much prayer, and in consultation with my husband, and many friends, I applied and was selected for the position.

On September 10, 1988, I began my new job as Superintendent of the "Youth Development Center," which housed one hundred and twenty juvenile delinquents, and one hundred thirty employees. Thirty employees were staff, and one hundred were members of the AFSCME Local Bargaining Union. The age range of the children was as young as ten up to 18 years old. Every Wednesday, children who were new admissions would be transported from the Juvenile Court, to Hudson. They would arrive in handcuffs and ankle chains. I was on call twenty-four hours a day. Many times I was summoned to come to the facility late at night, if there was an attempted escape by a student.

A school was right on the spacious 365 acres of land. Security guards and staff escorted the students to school. I visited each cottage to talk to the students and to listen to them. Some of the students were so starved for love and attention that I would spend long hours with them, counseling and listening to them. One of my main goals was to clean up, and organize a committee to work on projects so that we could become an accredited Institution. In 1990, we became accredited by the American Correctional Association. Even the students got involved, and enjoyed the treats for a job well done. Many times I went to the judges chambers to speak and appeal to the judges on behalf of the students. I counseled employees and families about being more attentive to the needs of the children.

In 1997, I retired from the Youth Development Center, and then volunteered at the Women's Pre-Release Prison for six years. I taught a class on Tuesday nights titled, "Lessons for Life." When the women left the facility, I followed up with them by visiting them in the rehab centers. I have had the joy of cultivating and nurturing many women who relocated to transitional housing. Occasionally I have encountered former students who were in the prison. They are still very appreciative of the times we shared praying together and studying the Word of God.

The Lord has blessed me to be a change agent in the lives of those He loves. People in prisons, and people in Hospitals, have much in common. They both, at varying levels experience the loss of their identity, personal possessions, friends, family, hope, and name. They become a number.

Explain the concept of “pipeline to prison” in America and
the impact individuals, families and communities?

The pipeline to prison in America, begins with the "Cradle to Prison Pipeline." Our goal must be to break the pipeline. There are many generational factors that lead to the pipeline theory. In some families and communities, grandfathers, fathers and sons all went to prison, and the cycle continued.

Many African American, and Hispanic boys as early as five years of age, find themselves in the pipeline. Father in Jail, Mother at work,
teenage single mother at home, boys not going to school. The community, individuals, and families are all affected by the pipeline, because
there are moral issues involved that perpetuate this system. Real life examples include 12 year old girls having to drop out of school, due to pregnancy. This leads to single parenting, poverty, depression, isolation, desperation and in many cases, crime.

As her children get to be a certain age, they begin to feel the lack of attention or love, and thus they begin to act out in school. Soon they begin getting into fights, get suspended for long periods of time for violating the Zero tolerance policy. They wander the streets and get picked up for truancy and the list goes on. The two main culprits in this dilemma (as I see it) are race, and poverty. In order to break the pipeline, we all have to get involved. Schools need to provide better educational opportunities for the students, and increase participation in the Big Brothers, and Big Sisters program who can mentor and tutor the children. Communities have to become more invested in building lives and not correctional facilities!

How can clergy help?

Clergy can help by becoming stations of hope, committed to being that prophetic voice for those who have no voice, to advocate for the least of these, and become community leaders and mentors for those who sit in the pews.

How can churches help?

Churches can help by being a healing community, reaching out to the families of the incarcerated. They can develop a Bible study for the incarcerated. Begin educating church members, through Scriptural illustrations of ministry to prisoners and the “least of these.” Show love to all people. Develop faith bonds with the returning person. Write letters to prisoners prior to release.

What guidance would you give to individuals desiring to get involved in prison ministry?

Become a good listener and let the person tell their story. Don't interrupt. Provide support for the returning person. Ask if the person is amenable to your praying for him/her. Keep the relationship from getting too personal. Give the person room. Don't try to accomplish everything in one fell swoop. Do not give out personal information (phone number, etc).

Are you involved in ministry to “at-risk” youth? Do you have a testimony concerning God’s movement in the lives of young people, catching them before they fell into the abyss of the prison system? We want to hear from you! Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

“Who Will Go? Continuing The Prison Ministry Discussion: Interview with The Rev. Mylion Waite”

Today’s blog continues the conversation of clergywomen involved in Prison Ministry. Our featured pastor for this segment is The Reverend Mylion Waite, Director of the Antioch Baptist Church Prison Ministry in Cleveland, Ohio and Pastor of the Open Door Fellowship Worship Hour, a ministry to the incarcerated and their families. With a heart for those families devastated by a loss of loved ones to the prison industry, Rev. Waite serves with great dedication and compassion. Below she shares her experience with this particular ministry and gives guidance to those desiring to get involved. As the Lord raised the question in the Book of Isaiah, “Who will go for us (Isaiah 6:8)?” Rev Waite’s ministry challenges us to consider our part in “the going.”

Shepastor Interview with
The Reverend Mylion Waite
Director of Antioch Baptist Church Prison Ministry,
Cleveland, Ohio
Pastor of the Open Door Fellowship Worship Hour

Tell us how you became involved in prison ministry and in what capacities have you served regarding this ministry.

I became involved after visiting the Northeast Pre-release Center with one of my church members who had a burning passion to minister to incarcerated women. Following the visit, I founded the Open Door Fellowship Worship Hour --a ministry to individuals incarcerated, those returning home and their families. Open Door offers two worship services monthly for the people previously incarcerated. This gathering of 40 to fifty allows families to share their trials, tribulations, joys and successes while encouraging them to stay strong in the faith.

Additionally, the ministry has a pen-pal and birthday card ministry to those incarcerated, as well as trained instructors for Crossroads Bible Correspondence courses. We have developed a lending library at the Oriana Halfway house. We have a County jail ministry, and a ministry to boys and girls in the juvenile detention center. We also have a biweekly visitation ministry to Grafton, Lorain Correctional Institutions where our members present the Iron Sharpens Irons workshop to help men with life skills and adjustment with reentry issues. The program also offers mentoring and after prison support with bus passes, food and clothing--these represent a modicum of what the Antioch Prison ministry offers to individuals and their families. I serve as the director of the prison ministry and pastor of Open Door.

Explain the concept of “pipeline to prison” in America

“Pipeline to Prison” is a phrase that captures the circumstances that children are born into that too often predict their likeliness of going to prison. These trajectories include, race, poverty, single parent homes, school dropout, lack of health care, including mental health. These forces combine to make it difficult for a youngster to transition successfully into adulthood.

How does this impact individuals, families and communities?

There are 2.7 million American Children with a parent behind bars. One in 9 AA American Children, one in 28 Hispanic Children and one in 57 White Children have incarcerated parents (Collateral Cost). This is devastating to family life and to society. Imprisonment makes it tough to maintain family ties or to support a family after release. Children with fathers in prison are significantly more likely than other children, to go to prison themselves. One in three African American boys can expect to go to prison themselves. In addition, large numbers of ex-offenders in a community destabilizes the community as people move in and out of prison, causing neighborhoods to loose incomes, role models for children and husbands for mothers.

How can clergy help?

Clergy can help by first acknowledging the problem and its impact on family life. Clergy can encourage prison ministries in their churches, urging people to follow Christ’s command to remember those in prison, as though they themselves are locked away.

How can churches help?

Churches can partner with community groups to help find jobs for the person returning to society, be a mentor, hire someone, welcome the ex-offender to the full life of the congregation, invite an ex-offender to speak at your church, offer support to children whose parent may be away, i.e. Angel Tree, etc.

What guidance would you give to individuals desiring to get involved in prison ministry?

Individuals desiring to help should get training from a reputable prison ministry program and learn the do's and don'ts of prison ministry. Be guided by the Holy Spirit as to why they should be involved. This is a rich mission field that requires first the heart of Christ and the willingness to get beyond presuppositions and biases towards those with prison records.

Does your congregation have an active prison ministry? Are you involved with ministry to the families of the incarcerated? What experiences have you had that may provide valuable insight into the “doing” of this much needed ministry? We want to hear from you! Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry, Highlights: Minister Fela Barrueto"

Over the next few blogs, I will highlight the work of female clergy in Prison Ministry. Today, we will take a look at the work of Minister Fela Barrueto, National Coordinator, Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry, American Baptist Home Missions Societies.

A native of Peru, Minister Fela Barrueto began her work with then, ABC National Ministries in 1996. While attending Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, earning a masters degree in Theological Studies, she worked in various administrative support positions, including the NEW LIFE 2010 initiative and Hispanic and Portuguese-speaking ministries.

I had the privilege of meeting Minister Fela about a year ago. A beautiful, humble spirit, Minister Fela speaks with great compassion and enthusiasm regarding the plight of the incarcerated, their families and the struggles they face as they seek to re-enter society. Although I have not yet done a personal interview with Minister Fela, I have observed her dedication, love and support for the incarcerated. She is currently helping our local Cleveland Baptist Association to initiate a task force for prisoner re-entry and aftercare within our churches.

Portions of the information below is taken directly from the American Baptist Website, under “Justice Ministries.”
Here are some tragic statistics Minister Fela shares...


“The reality of incarceration is not only painful and devastating, but also closer to us than we would like to admit. By the end of 2009, more than 1.6 million people were reported to be behind bars, either in state or federal prisons.

Prison population in the United States by the end of 2009: 1,613,656
Parents of minors: 809,800
Almost 11/2 million minors have a parent in prison.
More than 7.3 million individuals in the United States are either on probation or parole or in jail or prison.

Probation 42,933,163
Parole 824,365
Prison 1,512,576
Jail 780,581

This means that one in every 31 adults is under correctional control in the United States.

Total U.S. adult population: 232,403,959
Correctional population: 7,410,685

The prison system is the fastest growing industry in America. The system is also facing financial crisis and, therefore, opting for early releases at an extremely growing rate. Are our communities prepared for this huge influx of returning citizens? Are our churches ready to open their doors and welcome individuals that deserve a second chance? Are we prepared to deal with the conflicts caused by having victims and perpetrators entering to the same place of worship?”


Family Freedom Kit: “What Shall We Then Do?”
American Baptist Home Mission Societies has adopted The Family Freedom Kit: “What Shall We Then Do?” to share with churches to help them produce healing communities. Designed to prepare churches and communities to open their doors to returning citizens and their families, this holistic tool is available at no cost.

· Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry Toolkit
· The Christian Citizen

If you would like more information or believe that God is calling you to get involved, here’s how reach Minister Fela Barrueto:

Fela Barrueto
National Coordinator, Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Services
Telephone: 800-ABC-3USA, x2493
FAX: 610-768-2470
Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851

If you are currently serving in a prison ministry or have a testimony or praise to share concerning ministry to the incarcerated, post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris