In light of recent suicides at the Clark County Jail, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate why jail ministry groups, who brought hope and encouragement to incarcerated men and women, were told a few years ago that they were no longer allowed to visit because of “safety” issues and “staff shortages.” I was a member of the Gideon ministry team at the jail for eight years. In the more than 20 years that the Gideons were able to visit the men and women in the jail, I never heard of anyone on a ministry team who was hurt or injured.
When people are incarcerated and without hope, they tend to focus on failures, loss of family, home, job, a low self-image, etc., and thus begins a downward cycle of depression, pain and suicidal thoughts. I have seen on numerous occasions that a kind word, a little encouragement or a thoughtful, sincere prayer being enough to make a huge difference and offer hope to downcast souls. And I’m only one of many men and women who spent time with these folks who looked forward to our visits.
If only one suicide was averted, one life saved, one life changed, wouldn’t it be worth considering having ministry teams back at the Clark County Jail?