Many people aren’t all that interested in making life a little better for prisoners. It goes back to the old saying, “If they hadn’t done the crime they wouldn’t be doing the time.”
Video producer Dirk Wierenga quickly made that discovery, as he started doing interviews for a new HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS documentary. A theme on improving the lot of prisoners was not going to work. If his video production was going to help us raise money, it would have to change direction. As he adjusted the focus of the documentary, Wierenga took the approach that 90% of these prisoners are going to return to society someday. They’re going to move into our neighborhoods, work in our businesses, and attend our churches. If they come out with a positive attitude, having been treated with compassion while behind bars, 1) there’ll be less chance of re-offending; 2) there’ll be a strong chance that they’ll be good neighbors; and 3), chances are they’ll want to give back to society.
I’m convinced Dirk is right on both issues. I’ll give some examples in just a second here as to how prisoners, even before they get out, want to give back. And I’m hoping that, when people see and hear our story through the video, they’ll get it…they’ll see that it’s just plain common sense to treat prisoners fairly and with compassion.
Here are examples of how inmates are going far out of their way just to give back to society, even before they return to the streets.
We have boxes of warm kids hats, mittens and scarves, made by the women at Huron Valley to be sold in a charity store as a fund-raiser for HFP.
We have beautiful prayer shawls, knitted by the women, for our Prayer Shawl Ministry, where we send a shawl to the hurting loved one of a prisoner.
The men at one Michigan prison are knitting and crocheting items at an incredible rate for a homeless veterans’ shelter in Northern Michigan.
One of our friends makes hundreds of teddy bears in an atmosphere almost like a small factory, to be supplied to the Graham Crusade and other worthy causes.
The men at Brooks CF in Muskegon knit warm head-wear for needy kids in a program called Kaps for Kids.
A group of inmates has asked HFP to help in getting patterns for sleeping bags and mats from an Ohio prison, because they want to make these items for homeless people in Michigan.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are programs like these throughout the Michigan prison system. Granted, there are gang-bangers. Granted, some inmates are preying on the elderly and those convicted of sex crimes. Granted, some are still pushing guards down the stairs, or selling booze and drugs, or running their con games. But many want to change, and give back.
That’s why we say it’s important to treat them with kindness now. We want to develop an attitude that will carry through into the free world.
That’s what the new video---to a better life---is trying to convey.
Dirk was right.