Prison and Jail
Worship for Families of Incarcerated Individuals
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
For One Who Suffers – Chalice Hymnal #508 Howard Thurman
I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain
I can but offer what my love does give –
The strength of caring
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
This I do in quiet ways –
That on your lonely path you may not walk alone.
Testimony told by Carol Wieger
My son was arrested shortly after he became a legal adult. As a result, he was incarcerated for almost a year. That had to be one of the hardest years of my life. In the beginning, I was tempted to pay the $500 to have him released, but I didn’t. Because of mistakes he made before this particular arrest, I felt that he needed to learn from the consequences of his actions and serve the time. I’ve struggled with that decision for over 15 years.
When he was first placed in custody, I was reluctant to tell my friends at my new church where he was and the circumstances of his stay. I was embarrassed that they would feel that I was a horrible mother and had done a terrible job raising my son. I felt they would turn their backs on me. But ultimately, the love that I continued to feel for my son gave me the strength to share our story. It was through their support that I was able to make it through that year. They didn’t judge me or my son; they only offered hope and strength in our time of need.
Luckily, I was able to visit with my son every week and write him letters every day. In some ways, we grew much closer during that time than we had been for several years leading up to that point. I’d share with him how things were going with the family and how much I missed him. I always tried to keep things positive.
Almost one year into his stay, my son’s paternal grandfather passed away. I decided to call our previous pastor – one that he was more comfortable around – and have him accompany me to the jail to notify my son. Once again, I was nervous to bring more people into our circle of confidence, but the pastor accepted our situation and graciously went and comforted my son in our time of need. It was at that point that I paid the $500 to have him released from jail so that he would be able to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
Looking back at the situation, I would have handled things much differently regarding the timing of the payment of the bail and the resulting year of incarceration. I wasn’t as informed then as I am now about the prison and jail systems and different opportunities available to young people. However, my son is doing well now, and it did teach me the importance of being available to the incarcerated, returning citizens, and families of the incarcerated. I’m grateful to everyone that was available to me and my son, especially our church families during that time of our lives.