HomeReturning jail ministry growing at CJC

Returning jail ministry growing at CJC

Madison County Sheriff Julian Wiser, members of his leadership and communications staff and a few other local dignitaries were in a common area in the new expansion of the Criminal Justice Complex last week.

County Mayor A.J. Massey, State Representative Chris Todd, Circuit Court Judge Don Allen and more were present as well.

They were there for a graduation ceremony.

About six months ago, Wiser brought Pastor Ronald Benton from Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in to serve as chaplain at the CJC. Under the approval of Wiser, Benton and MCSO’s Tom Mapes started bringing back different jail ministry programs and made them available to the inmates.

One such program was “Walking With Jesus,” which is a 12-step program to help those learn how to walk with Jesus through their daily lives and showing how that can affect each aspect of their lives.

The 18 inmates who were graduating from graduating from that program.

Other programs that are offered for non-violent offenders and those who aren’t classified as career criminals include “Life’s Healing Choices,” which is a program that Allen offers, three new women’s ministries and volunteers who come into the jail three times a week to help the inmates as they try to start a new life when they get out of jail.

“All of these programs went away with COVID, but Sheriff Wiser expressed an interest in bringing them back, and we’re seeing the fruit of that today,” Mapes said.

Benton and other officials had important words for the inmates – many who are a few weeks from being released.

“It’s so important for these men to learn that there are people who love them, who support them and want to see them succeed,” Benton said. “I’m one of them. Sheriff Wiser is one of them. All the people in this room is in that group.

“And every one of these men have families that miss them and want them home and out of here. They want to see them succeed too. I appreciate Sheriff Wiser and his entire staff for allowing us to bring to these men the message of hope that Jesus Christ has for all of us.”

Wiser had more words for the men.

“I don’t ever want to see you in here again,” Wiser said, while some in the room chuckled but he never cracked a smile. “I’m proud of you for going through this, and I hope all of you mean it when you say you want to do better when you get out.

“You all are first-time offenders. If you come back, that tells me you’re on the way to becoming a career criminal. If that’s the case, you might not ever get a chance for this again. So think about the choices you make and who you hang around with and where you go when you get out of here. Don’t make the choices you made before that got you in here. Make better ones.”

Carlos Jarmon and Christopher Zeigler are two inmates who went through the program.

Both of them have been in jail for about a year and are scheduled to possibly get out in the next couple months.

They both said they were glad to go through the program.

“They didn’t have to ask me twice,” Jarmon said when asked about if he wanted to go through the program when it was presented to him as an option.

Zeigler said he plans to take advantage of this opportunity and live a better life when he’s released.

“I’ve got to be a better person for my family, and now I feel like I can be,” Zeigler said.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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