Justice


There is a dark place in our prisons. It is aptly called the hole. But God is creating life and goodness in the people there. He is filling the void with His life and declaring, “it is good” just as He did at creation.

The following information may be found in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Fiscal Year 2017 Statistical Report:


G/J5 – Offenders in this custody have one or more disciplinary convictions for an assault with a weapon on staff or offenders within the past 24 months; two or more disciplinary convictions resulting in a major penalty for offender or staff assault without a weapon within the past 12 months; one or more disciplinary convictions resulting in major penalties for extortion or sexual abuse with the past 24 months; primarily Line Class I, II, or III time- earning status (prison offenders only) if the offender is assaultive or aggressive in nature; or escaped from a TDCJ secure adult correctional facility within the past five years.

As of August 2017, TDCJ kept 1,326 inmates in restrictive housing — defined by the report as at least 22 hours a day in a prison cell — for six years or longer.

TDCJ inmates in so-called administrative segregation, the official term for isolated housing, spend nearly all their time inside a cell about the size of a walk-in closet. The only physical contact they experience is when corrections officers shackle them for brief trips outside their cells — either for showering, medical appointments, to exercise alone inside a cage or to visit with family while separated by a glass window.

There are volunteer ministries who go into these areas of the prison to bring hope to these men. They take inmates with them, usually, men who were once assigned to G5 themselves. We once asked the 6 facilitators in our school at that time if they had ever lived in G5. As they called out their time there, we added up a total of 60 years in solitary confinement. Four of those men at that time were going back into G5 to bring hope to the men there.

However, this is not a report on solitary confinement or its effects. The above information is to paint the setting for the miracle that transpired. This is a testimony of how God is transforming the justice system from the inside out.

One of the men currently living in G5 recounted this testimony to one of the ministers there. He said, “I love to draw, and I’m good at it. I was working on a drawing of Martin Luther King for a friend. It was an important drawing for me, and I had been working on it a long time. I needed to go shower, but I hate to because sometimes when we go, the officers will use that time to tear up our cells. And that’s just what happened; an officer “tossed” my cell. When I got back, my bunk was turned over on my drawing. It was ruined. I was in a rage. My insides burned. My head pounded. I wanted to tear into him. The two men in the cells on each side of me, who are also in my Bible class, began to call out to me, “Don’t do it, man, that’s not who you are anymore.” I thought I would explode, and I yelled, “Right now, I am!” But then I began to cry, and I knew that I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I didn’t want to be filled with hate and anger. So, I said to the officer, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have acted like that. I’m going to pray for you. The officer responded, “Why are you apologizing to me? I did that on purpose because I don’t like you.” The man responded, “Now, I’m going to pray for you even more.” Later, the officer returned to apologize. Good was returned for evil, and life won. Now, there is peace between them. This is a miracle. Peace in the midst of chaos is God’s justice. People are experiencing heaven in solitary confinement, in the hole. In the darkest place in our city God’s justice is reigning.

How is this God’s justice? Biblically, justice means to make things right. How did God make things right? God’s justice was an innocent man on the cross for the guilty. God’s justice is beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. How is that justice? How is it just that I pray for my enemies and do good to those who deliberately wrong me and use me? Why should I not seek my own vengeance? Why should I not repay evil with evil? Perhaps because to do good in the face of evil is the greatest form of love. It is the precious and powerful commodity that cancels debt, absolves guilt and fills the void of loss. It is the power that sets all captives free and destroys the work of the destroyer. It is our mission to fill the world with this love, to bring heaven into the earth. That is justice. That is making all things right. That is the justice that will transform the Justice System from the inside out.

OUT FROM THE TOMBS

My name is Joe. I’m 55 years old. I grew up with a single mother. My father was in prison all the years I was growing up. I didn’t really get to know him until I, myself, was coming to prison. I’ve been in prison 36 years now, since I was 19 years old. I have a 50-year sentence for murder. My whole life I was a hardcore gang member. I grew up in street gangs, sold drugs and did all kinds of drugs. I was a heroin addict. I was involved in all kinds of illegal activities, like gun running, prostitution, extortion. You name it; I’ve done it. I came to prison for killing a man in a gang fight. Once in prison, I went back to what I knew, “gangs.” I was a member and a recruiter of a Texas prison gang. I did 15 years in Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement).

All my life I’ve had this underlying belief that in order to receive love and acceptance I had to be a part of a gang with other people just like me, alone, broken and abandoned by everyone we let get close to us. Gang life was my security blanket to be loved and accepted. But it came with a big price. I lived in the dark world of Satan, who had me enslaved and doing his dirty work to steal, rob, kill and destroy everything in my path. My mother often talked to me about Jesus Christ and never stopped praying for me. Once when I was in a mental ward for setting one of my cell partners on fire and for cutting myself, my mother came to see me. For three weekends in a row the prison officials told her she couldn’t see me because I was a danger to myself and to others. Well, Mom wasn’t leaving until she saw me. They suited up a 10-man team and chained me up and put me in a protective metal cage. When my mother saw me she said, “Oh, my God, who are you? You don’t even look like my son; where is my son?” I was full of demons. She put her hands on the cage and started to pray. No one understood her, but the demons knew every word she was saying. I had 14 seizures back to back and woke-up in a free-world hospital. I didn’t know what had happened to me. Let me tell you, God answers prayers! He answered my mother’s prayer and freed me of all those demons. I was dead in sin; I was like the man who hung around the tombs always hurting myself. I felt unworthy, unlovable, with no purpose, no hope and no direction until one day I broke down and cried out to Jesus. I said, “Lord, am I so messed up that you don’t want me? Am I so messed up that you can’t do anything with me? Am I so messed up that you won’t take me back? As I saw there in that dirty cell, crying on the floor, crying like I’ve never cried before; the Lord answered me. He said, “I never left you! You left me! I love you, son, and I’ve been waiting for you to come back home.” Accepting Jesus is my biggest accomplishment in life! Jesus has transformed my life and I have an awesome relationship with him. Now I am able to love others and love myself.

I’m still in the recruiting business, but now I recruit people for God’s kingdom. Today I have a vision that Jesus has given me. I want to reach out to people who are sick, broken, oppressed and struggling with addiction. I want to go to college to become a chemical co-dependency counselor. I am helped and strengthened by the volunteers and ministries who have poured into me. I am encouraged by all of you and want to be a part of this family to help the lost and destroy the works of the devil. You may ask, “Does God still do miracles?” You bet! Today you are looking at one!

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This is where you will get a regular sneak-peek into  life behind the razor wire, and all that God is doing with and through His ‘sons-in-white.’ Lives are being changed from the inside out, signs and miracles follow them.  The prison system and the world will never be the same!