Since Carl and I got back from the Kairos weekend at the Boyd Men’s Prison Unit, I have thought a lot about the Men In White whom I met. Like I said in Friday’s blog, “What in the World is that Noise?” I am not a “Pollyanna.” I do not believe that everyone who said a kind word or “God bless you” were being sincere with me and the other visitors. They manipulate every situation. That’s how it was in their life, and how it is in prison!
These men did not end up in the Boyd Men’s Prison because they were sweet, loving, law-abiding citizens. Some are in for buying and selling drugs; some are there because they killed someone. Some are there because of assaults and robbery; and some are there for reasons I cannot imagine.
The men at the Boyd Unit live in a very strict, closed environment. It is believed that every day free citizens make over 235 decisions a day. The Men In White make about 25 decisions a day. They are told when to go to bed and when to get up. They are told what job they will do, and how they are going to do it. They can’t even go to the bathroom without permission.
Some men are in cells by themselves; while others have cellmates. At anytime, for any reason the prison can go into “Lock Down.” Everything stops! All the Men In White return to their cells and remain there until the “Lock Down” is over. A “Lock Down” can last for hours or days, and most of the time the men do not know why they are in “Lock Down.”
They cannot touch each other, because a fight might breakout. Even as Christians, when they attend a Bible Study they cannot hug each other or shake hands.
As a professing Christian these men face beatings, ridicule, and mocking. Many are beaten so badly that they end up in the prison hospital, or have to be confined in solitary confinement for their protection. The Men In White do not take their commitment in Christ lightly which could lead to life or death in prison.
Will they all make it? Probably not. The stakes of following Christ in a prison environment are too high. I have been wondering if I had to face the same situation could I remain a faithful follower of Christ. I believe today I could, but if I was a new Christian, like these men, it would be extremely difficult.
Some will make it; some will not. Of those who do remain Christians will make it on the outside even though they face difficulties from the choices they made earlier. Maybe because of their faith, they do not get discouraged as easily or they are willing to take a job that is not as lucrative as dealing and selling drugs.
My concern is for those who get out and want to make it on the outside. As a felon most places will not give the men work. Lack of job opportunities and no family support are the top two reasons why many of these men return to prison. They cannot pay their bills — rent, electricity, water, etc. — without a job. In prison they do not have to think about where they are going to live, or what they are going to eat.
I believe the Men In White need a support system on the outside that will help them find work and get them back on their feet. This will require a lot of work, planning, and help from inside and outside the prison system itself and the Christian community. I don’t know what the next step will be. I guess for now there is more research to be done. If anyone knows of a working support system for men out of prison, please contact me on this website.