Freedom behind the Wall

Educating Offenders

I recently found myself standing in the “hub” of the East Education Building talking with a retired educator who coordinates college classes for the offender population in Sterling. She’s paid by a grant program that helps offenders plan their college career so eventually they can graduate with an Associate’s degree. There were a couple of thoughts that struck me as I listened to her tell of her long and auspicious career in academia.

First was the “impression” that she regarded unlearned people in a different class than those of high academic accomplishment. It was also clear to me that she desired to use her skills to make a difference with the offender population during her years of retirement all at no cost to the State of Colorado as she was paid through the aforementioned grant program associated with a leading philanthropy.

The second thing I learned is that the offenders are required to pay out-of-state tuition for any Colorado college credits. State statute reasons that the offender population does not have the same rights to access as law-abiding citizens. This makes good public policy sense.

Christianity: Call to a Different Standard

Christianity is a call to a different standard than society’s standard of justice, propriety and good public policy. If Jesus were to use the standards implied above, I wonder how you or I would fare in the scheme of redemption.

Wisdom teaches, “The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15), but knowledge without love brings arrogance as Paul is clear to state in 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.”

First and foremost, in regard to the offender population in prison, the state is responsible for public safety. Second to that is offender rehabilitation of which education is a key ingredient.

Not a Call to Comfort

Sound public policy allows us the means to justly administer limited public funding. However, my fear is that we in the body of Christ have become comfortable inside our buildings and have allowed the public sector to fulfill our responsibility.

I’m not advocating that the church become the means to fix the social problems of society, for Jesus himself states that His mission was to save man from his sin (Luke 19:10). Each one of us has that special something we call a talent that can be used to show Jesus to a lost world. Sometimes it is a smile or kind word or maybe a gift of food or help in time of need. It could be leading class discussion, sharing our faith with a neighbor or even attending one of the training schools within the brotherhood to prepare for dedicated evangelism.

Whatever your niche, let’s get uncomfortable and move outside our buildings and serve the King of kings because we see the value of the soul (Psalm 8:4-5). Your opportunity is waiting.