On January 1st, I am starting as the Executive Director of CHARM Prison Ministry.
The ministry was started by my good friends, David and Kaye Trickett, and God has blessed the ministry by growing it to the point of needing a full-time director. (For those familiar with CHARM David is not going anywhere, I am only stepping in to run the day-to-day operations so he can be freed up to do the ministry God has called him to do.)
I will share more about CHARM and the prison system in the coming days and weeks, but as I prepare for my first week in full-time prison ministry I did what most academics do…I ordered a few books relevant to the subject.
1. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – I am only a couple chapters into this book, but it has already begun to open my eyes. Transition homes is the area CHARM has grown the most in the past few years, and her thoughts on the prison label clearly identified an issue I knew was there but couldn’t explain. She writes, “So long as large numbers of African Americans continue to be arrested and labeled drug criminals, they will continue to be relegated to a permanent second-class status upon their release, no matter how much (or how little) time they spend behind bars. The system of mass incarceration is based on the prison label, not prison time.” I look forward to reading the rest of the book.
2. Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System – This book lays out a 12 points for changing the current prison system.
3. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race – Dr. Jennings’ book has been on my radar for a while now, excited to read it in conversation with these other books.
4. The Cross and the Lynching Tree – I am not sure what to expect of this book. I admire James Cone’s works (and usually enjoy reading them because he is a gifted communicator) but never been able to jump on board with his theology. Wanted to save this book to read with other voices like those above.
I am really looking forward to 2015 and all the new beginnings (also part of another new project – projectCURATE). And hopefully at least one happy ending (I am scheduled to complete and defend my PhD dissertation this summer).