What do you know about Inmates!
Three projects. Three ways to help inmates.
A little History
IncorporationIn 1972, after the Attica Uprising, the Rochester Council of Churches (now known as Greater Rochester Council of Churches) offered to be an incubator for a group to go into the City Jail and sit with the incarcerated, offering friendship, empathy and prayerful presence. That group was formed and became Rochester Interfaith Jail Ministry. We incorporated as a 501(c)3 charitable corporation. For many years, RIJM served to help the Chaplain to clear, train and supervise any volunteers who wished to bring scripture, religion and spirituality inside the walls.
Our Board of Directors are from different denominations, different professions. They serve to supervise us, support us and to keep the Charitable Corporation healthy.
After the County and City Jails merged, RIJM was challenged to find new ways to serve the prison population. Under the leadership of Angela Palmieri, we began offering “seminars” patterned after college seminars, using Houses of Healing as our text. These are offered at the Brighton Facility, to prisoners eligible to attend. We continue to follow that course.
Visiting the Teenagers. We also now go to visit the teenagers too young to be housed in General population. We created a new program, in part based on Casarjian’s “Power Source,” specifically written for teenagers. We spend the time allotted with these young men discussing their own past, how they have been brought up, and how they can learn to identify high risk behavior, what prompts them to take risks, and how they can make better choices. When they turn the age to go to General Population, they can no longer attend our sessions.
We need youWe hope, with more volunteers and books, to be able to expand both programs.
Why you should listen
“I’m a woman, I’m a grandmother, I’m a daughter, I have a son,” sings Brenda Watkins, lead vocalist for The Lady Lifers.
“I’m not an angel, I’m not the devil. I came to jail when I was so young.” The Lady Lifers are a chorus of women serving life sentences in Muncy State Prison in Pennsylvania. While they are often known by their inmate numbers, they also have names: Brenda Watkins, Dannielle Hadley, Debra Lee Brown, Theresa Battles, Diane Metzger, Thelma Nichols, Joann Butler, Lena Brown, Trina Garnett, Naomi Blount. Together, they sing about their hopes and fears, including the very real possibility that they may die alone in prison. The words to their song “This is Not My Home” by Howard Woodring. Music by Naomi Blount.