There is a stark difference between prison and everyday society. Each facility we work in is different, often influenced by the socioeconomic makeup of the area and the severity of the crimes committed by the boys. The morale of the boys also varies from facility to facility.
In one, roaches often grace the floors of the lobby and rats frequent the paths between buildings. In another, young men have more amenities and freedom to move about during the day before they are “locked in” for counts and at night. In a third, a facility designed for juveniles is more welcoming and provides a semblance of hope.
There is one key theme that runs through every facility where youth are charged as adults: they have lost freedom, they are not privileged to see much of the light of day because their sin which to us appears to be greater than our sin on the outside. This fact leads to deep feelings of shame, despair, and hopelessness; but was Jesus not called to the tax collectors and sinners for repentance or have we forgotten that we all together have strayed away from the Lord requiring the same sentence of death and eternal separation apart from Him? If that is the case how can we forget the backward conditions, bars, and security in those edifices that limit us to seeing these lost young men and women who need the Savior.
Locked up in a better jail or worse they are still locked up, easily forgotten, and have less of a chance for the Gospel to be preached if people are not aware. God calls us to remember them and feel the pain they feel being locked away as if it were ourselves. There is an air of hopelessness, despair, and desire for freedom inside, the same desire for freedom we have as “free” citizens because God has placed a longing of Heaven and for eternity in all of our hearts.
At unCUFFED, our call is to share the love of Christ so that the minuscule spark of hope can be ignited into a roaring fire giving Light and life to a whole prison tier. God’s desire is for each boy to be liberated, to enjoy earthly life to the fullest extent in society or even behind bars.