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Add your name to the National Catholic Petition Against Federal Executions! This past summer, the U.S. federal governmentrestarted executions for the first time in 17 years, with Attorney General William Barr serving as the principal administration official behind the effort. Since then, the Department of Justice — with AG Barr at the helm — has carried out more federal executions than at any other comparable time in the past 70 years. Recently, the “National Catholic Prayer Breakfast” — an independent entity with no official status within the U.S. Catholic Church — announced that AG Barr will receive its second annual Christifideles Laici award on Sept. 23, which is said to honor “those who serve the Church so well.” The bestowal of such an award upon the individual driving the federal government’s campaign to ramp up executions is unacceptable. There are currently two more federal executions scheduled for the days surrounding the “National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.” AG Barr has the power to stop them both, and any future executions. Please sign Catholic Mobilizing Network’s petition urging AG Barr to reverse course on federal executions. Your signature will also send a signal to “National Catholic Prayer Breakfast” organizers that it is unacceptable to reward such egregious violations of the sacred dignity of human life. Petition link: catholicsmobilizing.org/petition
We invite you to dial #250 and say the keyword “Justice” to contact your legislature and help continue the call for prison reform. Help us help them.
Listen to the radio ad (below) featuring our very own Marvin Edwards. This advertising campaign was launched in Mississippi by REFORM Alliance, a nonprofit led by Jay-Z, Robert Kraft, Meek Mill, Michael Rubin and others, to make the public aware of the need for criminal justice reform and spur them to action. Marvin serves as MARC Executive Director, and coordinator of the Catholic Ministry at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Just like the most of the world, we are having to completely rethink the way we offer our services. Since new restrictions were put in place as a result of this pandemic, we have not been able to take the Getting Ahead While Getting Out program to the prisons. The shutdown happened so abruptly leaving one of the men’s groups at mid-course and another had only just begun. We put on our thinking caps and discovered creative ways to continue to move forward in our mission. We have been very productive over these past few months!
HERE IS A PEEK AT WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO:
CORRESPOND WITH PARTICIPANTS: We have written to each of the prisoners who began the course and received responses from them. INITIATE A CORRESPONDENCE COURSE: Prisoners were able to continue the Getting Ahead While Getting Out program via written assignments. RECRUIT AND HIRE A CASE MANAGER: Our new Case Manager, who will be introduced on the site very soon, has begun great work including; contacting released prisoners who were referred to MARC but have not participated in the Getting Out program; setting up a record-keeping system; and reaching out to potential support organizations and persons. PRODUCE A MARC BROCHURE: This will be distributed to potential collaborators, partners, volunteers and donors. (Attached) HIRE A PART-TIME WEBSITE MANAGER: This will give our website new life and keep the public informed and up-to-date on all things MARC. CREATE A POCKET SIZE RESOURCE LIST: This is a handy tool that will be given to prisoners upon their release. INITIATE MONTHLY VIRTUAL MEETINGS: We have moved our regular monthly in-person meetings to Zoom meetings until restrictions are lifted.
Friday 2/21/2020 a graduation ceremony and luncheon was held in the Quick Beds Visitation Center at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF). There was a total of 9 graduates. Due to early release only seven were able to be present. Family members were also invited and some were able to attend.
Superintendent Ron King spoke as well as Getting Ahead Facilitators Scarlett Larkin and Amy Blair. Each graduate spoke at the podium. Much to our surprise all eight graduates performed a “praise song” at the end of the speeches. This was an exceptional and very talented group of ladies who worked hard to understand their individual situations and make plans for their release.
CMCF Superintendent Ron King, Facilitators Scarlett Larkin and Amy Blair
Below are two of the seven exceptional speeches that were given:
Getting Ahead by Patty Lewellen
I’ve been locked up 5 years in this pen
Doing time for my sin
When they came to me about this class
Well I said, “it sounds real nice”
Little did I know just how far I would go
But now I have a 72 hour plan
So I won’t be back again
The ladies here have been so nice
They taught me things about my life
Not just what I see
But what they have seen in me
I read a story from this book
That makes me take a closer look
Make things right, while you still can
You many not get this chance again!
“My Destiny” by Brittnei Farmer
They say everything happens for a reason
And that nothing happens by chance
Even the trials we go through
And our hardest circumstance
It has all been predestined
To be where we are today
But regardless of what has happened
God is leading the way
One of my favorite scriptures
Is about trusting God with all my heart
Not just when things are good
But also when everything is falling apart
I never expected to end up
Behind these prison walls
But God will get your attention
When you don’t answer His calls
We cannot predict the future
Or see what lies ahead
But we can prepare for the unfortunate
And be proactive instead
This is why I chose classes
To get my life back on track
You must stay busy in here
Because Satan is always on the attack
Getting Ahead While Getting Out
Was the perfect class for me
The topics were very helpful
Especially about budgeting
Other topics addressed in the workbook
Were about situations in the zone
Then it came to my realization
That the books stories had become my own
Mrs. Amy and Mrs. Scarlett were very encouraging
And prepared me for my return in society
But what touched my heart the most
is they saw no stripes, they just saw me
So because of them I feel I still have a chance
To be whatever I want to be
I will take everything this class had to offer
Until the day I am set free
On the tables were pyramid center pieces, little bags of trail mix, and Hershey Kisses.
The pyramid represent a strong structure which can not be pushed down. The words on the pyramid represents the path these ladies have followed to plan their future. The gold crane on top is a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. The trail mix is for fortification on your trail to success, and the gold kisses are for all the love and hugs we have share
Cheese, Veggie and Fruit platters were served along with Fried Chicken, ice tea and cake.
Being a Getting Ahead Facilitator is a very rewarding Ministry and a lot of FUN! We look forward to getting to know and working with many more individuals who seek to assess and plan their future upon release.
St. Paul Catholic Church, Flowood, Mississippi, Friday November 15 and Saturday November 16, 2019.
Two all day workshops sponsored by MARC, Mississippi Association for Returning Citizens were presented by Philip DeVol, Consultant and Author for Aha Process, Inc.
Bridges Out of Poverty provides a framework for organizations and communities to understand people in poverty. It addresses poverty at the individual, organizational,
and community levels whereby people in poverty become planners and decision makers. This workshop is prerequisite for presenters of other Aha Process programs.
Getting Ahead While Getting Out provides a reentry program to reduce recidivism through learning, building resources, accepting responsibility, and working together. Participants receive certification to present this program to inmates inside correctional facilities.
MARC members are currently facilitating Getting Ahead While Getting Out courses inside MDOC, Mississippi Department of Corrections. The mission of MARC is to create a support system for returning citizens to help them break the cycles of incarceration and poverty through accountability, collaboration, building resources and learning opportunities.