Inmates awaiting release undergo program to prepare for life outside prison walls

Inmates awaiting release undergo program to prepare for life outside prison walls
(Source: Photo Pixabay)

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The path to freedom after incarceration is getting a little smoother with the help of prison ministry and volunteers.

Inmates at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl are charting the path to release through a course that prepares them to return to society.

The non-denominational program is based on the book Getting Ahead While Getting Out. It is helping more than 40 male and female inmates prepare for that day.

“It leaves a mental picture of where to move and how to get there,” said Parchman chaplain and facilitator Marvin Edwards.

The program is for people who are within a year of getting out of prison. Edwards is also the coordinator of Catholic Prison Ministries.

Chaplain Marvin Edwards and Sister Madeline Kavanagh are facilitators who assist Central Mississippi Inmates with the transition to freedom. Source: WLBT
Chaplain Marvin Edwards and Sister Madeline Kavanagh are facilitators who assist Central Mississippi Inmates with the transition to freedom. Source: WLBT

“They’re going to be investigators themselves, to investigate the situations they’re going back to, to investigate the situations they came from and to lead them into what they need to do to advance themselves in live,” said Edwards.

Groups meet weekly for 22 two-hour sessions over the course of at least seven months.

“Getting Ahead While Getting Out” is voluntary and non-denominational.

Sister Madeline Kavanagh of St. Thomas Church in Lexington is also a facilitator. The 60 year nun describes the participants as a cross section of women, from young mothers and professionals to the elderly.

“They have a great desire to improve their lives... especially with their families, but they need to know how. And so part of the program is for them to begin to discover the resources that would be available to them,” said Kavanagh.

Inmates read and follow guidelines in "Getting Ahead Whle Getting Out" to prepare for life after prison. Source: WLBT
Inmates read and follow guidelines in "Getting Ahead Whle Getting Out" to prepare for life after prison. Source: WLBT

The course teaches inmates how to get information, communicate, negotiate, control their funding and build relationships.

“These are people who are really anxious to move on with their lives, but they still need a lot of support,” added Kavanagh.

The program is in its infancy and organizers hope to collaborate with existing agencies, faith-based organizations, and others, for job opportunities and assistance for the inmates.

Volunteers are needed.

Graduation ceremonies will be held for participants at the completion of the program.

If you would like to volunteer or donate, contact Catholic Charities at 601-355-8634.

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