This past Wednesday I joined Gail Kincaid and Kathy Keary in their ministry at Western Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph. We were there to attend a restorative justice circle. The program is called Offenders Offering Alternatives. It is a program where inmates offer alternatives to those on probation and are one step away from imprisonment if they do not change their ways.
Truth telling is such an important part of the process of keeping it real. The inmates shared stories about their crimes and being held accountable for them. They shared their personal histories and which attitudes and behaviors led them to prison. Those on probation had the opportunity to respond to the personal stories and powerful discussion followed. Approved visitors like Kathy, Gail and I were also invited to participate in the circle. Specially trained inmates gave advice to each of those on probation as they each shared their case. The goal was persuading them to make right choices and keep from going to prison.
Fortunately, the prison extended this program out into the community. Offenders Offering Alternatives is now being led by inmates freed from prison who want to persuade others to not go to prison. There is currently a program in Richmond and hopefully one in Liberty soon. I commend our Precious Blood Companions, Gail and Kathy, in their prison ministry, and invite other Companions or Missionaries who may want to attend such a circle in Richmond with me in the future to please let me know.
Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.