Locked Up with the Lord

Faith-based rehab: "Doing Time with JC in the TDCJ" was a great article [by Scott Nowell, September 18]. In my opinion, most men and women come out of the Texas prison system committing worse crimes if they don't have a loving and strong family to stand by them. They don't stand a chance because they become hardened and bitter.

Why? Our legal system is not perfect, and individuals like Mark Kleiman view these men and women as statistics and numbers. They have no idea what life behind bars is like, what it is to live in constant fear for your life, from both inmates and guards. Nor does he know what it is like to be denied the right to be human! These men and women have to endure so much humiliation and so many wrongs.

I am all for putting anyone behind bars if they break the law, but let's remember that not all prisoners are murderers, child molesters, drug dealers or rapists. Before Mr. Kleiman can object to programs like InnerChange, he should walk a mile in their shoes. Even if only a percentage of prisoners benefit from the program, then my dollar is well spent. The majority of prisons do not have adequate rehabilitational, educational, spiritual or psychological programs -- except for weight-lifting and tattooing!

Rehabilitation to me means treating people with dignity and providing them with the right skills to make it in the world. What better way to start than with God's word; I have never known or heard of God failing us.

Wendolyn Beck

Prime choice: Kudos to Scott and Dan. I do not agree with any of the opposing views, and I am sure they do not agree with me. I am always amazed to see how politics runs through everything.

Scott did a good job of presenting both sides. Those who oppose InnerChange Fellowship Initiative and the work being done inside the Carol Vance Unit obviously have a problem with a Christian world-view, and that is their right. I find it strange that so much focus was placed on the murderous felons and conservative politicians in the program. The success stories with the victims, the families of the incarcerated and the incarcerated themselves were not so prevalent.

IFI is not about politics and murder, it is instead about seeing men changed from the inside while inside -- a change of heart inside a heartless environment. We are not there to preach but to share the love of God. Why is that a problem? The prisoners and the volunteers are in the Vance Unit by choice. I thought "choice" was a good thing.

Tony Minchew

I led three lives: Being a mentor in the IFI program for the last four years or so, I think I can speak to how the program has worked. Next week my fourth protégé will walk out from behind the walls at Carol Vance, and I expect he'll never return behind bars again.

Let me tell you about my protégés. Chris had been sent to prison four times; he was a hardened criminal. Chris could steal you blind, loan-shark ya', sell you dope and get you a hooker. Chris was the quintessential street hustler. Chris is now an administrator of hospices and halfway houses in Dallas.

Julius, when he was busted, had over $200,000 under his bed from cocaine sales and profits from his chop shop. He'd spent most of his adult life behind bars. He's getting married next week, works a regular 40-plus hours a week and is buying a home for his family.

LT was a crack addict; statistically only about 15 percent of crack addicts ever recover. LT has his own business, has been out well over a year and is doing fine.

Three hardened criminals, and their lives changed for the better. All were multiple offenders. It's not IFI that changes men, it's Jesus Christ; and these men are truly changed.

The changes are real and substantial. You should talk to them to find out if the program really works.

Walter Hammock

Collaring Christ: Why does your prison Christ have buttons on his shirt and such a nice stiff collar? He looks more like a sleeved-out dental technician than the son of God doing hard time.

Mike Reed

Abbott's Way

Out-of-control HISD: Upon reading the letters on the subject of Terry Abbott and HISD [Letters, "HISD Stonewalling," September 18], I get angry all over again. The situation is clearly out of control. And still no one within the HISD administration has ended his self-serving and narcissistic reign.

All media outlets and citizens alike should force Mr. Abbott to publicly come forward in an attempt to justify his blatant abuse of authority. I would also suggest that Mr. Abbott provide HISD's governing boards written approval of his policies.

These reasons, along with many more, are why my child does not attend an HISD school. Furthermore, shame on you, Kaye!

Stacy Ferguson

Border Lines

Proud heritage: Thank you for exposing the border vigilantes for what they are: lawless individuals preying on paranoid Anglos and helpless, desperate poor people ["Soldiers of Misfortune," by Thomas Korosec, September 18].

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