Two years have passed since my dad began his sentence in a federal prison camp. In just a few weeks, he will be one of many prisoners returning to a community, trying to reconnect and reestablish life on the outside.
I hope for every prisoner that release day will be a day of rejoicing and a new beginning rather than a new set of hardships. Reentering a community after incarceration is no easy task: finding housing, getting a job, reconnecting with people, and the list goes on. The prisoner may have broken a law (potentially a very serious one) but we can allow them hope for opportunity on the other side.
I hope we can think of prisoners not as the lowest of the low, but as fellow sinners in need of grace. I hope that as they return, churches will help them know Christ and understand how to live well in society. When you have the opportunity, extend compassion toward a returning prisoner who may be struggling a great deal emotionally and spiritually while trying to reestablish life in “normal” society.
As the prison gates close behind returning prisoners and they face life on the other side, I hope they will be met with grace to live faithfully in their new beginning.