Jail officials hope new chaplain will help curb recidivism

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Many of the same faces are coming in and out of the Jackson County jai and to change that jail officials are stepping out on faith. The jail has made an agreement with Good News Jail and Prison Ministry to bring in a chaplain, which Something the ministry program already does in jails and prisons in 21 states.

Once a week Catholic deacon Mike Gilly goes to the Jackson County jail to give communion to the prisoners and spend a few minutes talking with them.

"They just need that reassurance that somebody is out there praying for them, that somebody is looking out for them, for their soul interest," said Gilly. "I think it's good to see somebody other than a guard."

In about eight months, Jackson County inmates will see a full time chaplain thanks to an agreement with Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.

Capt. Michael Wright is the warden. "They come in and they provide the pastoral services, the counseling services for the inmates, the crises management services for the inmates," Wright explained. "They also provide the security training for the volunteer programs that are here and it's just a good thing."

The warden said it's also a good thing to help keep people from returning to jail. Good News offers life skills programs proven to help curb recidivism.

"As far as the reoccurring inmates, as I like to call them, we probably see 70 percent of the inmates come back in and that's something that we need to change. And this is a good program by which I think we can make those changes. If we can get somebody or several inmates to break that mold and get them to not come back, then we're doing our jobs."

Jail officials said they've seen the difference that a walk of faith can make.

"Their attitudes, they improve drastically," Lt. Tyrone Nelson said. "I just know some of the ones I've dealt with when they were not behaving well, since they've gotten their Bible, they've been a whole lot better to deal with for us."

Although Good News is a Christian-based organization, Jackson County jail officials said the chaplain will coordinate various faiths.

"He's going to be able to do the pastoral services, the counseling services for any inmates here regardless of their faiths. He's also going to be able to reach out into the community," said Wright. "If an inmate has a specific recognizable faith, he's going to be able to reach out to that faith and get somebody in here that is more familiar with it to talk to somebody."

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