Prayer can, and will, heal our California prison system

Prison Overcrowding
Photo released by California Department of Corrections

Spending more tax dollars on prisons is not the answer to averting crime or making our communities safer. And while more money needs to go into education, drug and mental health treatment, and other crime-prevention programs to help young people and ex-convicts lead productive lives, the ultimate answer is God’s answer–whereby redemption and peace is felt in each and every heart.

We don’t raise troublesome issues about our prisons and jails to be alarmists. We highlight issues that need our prayers.

And helping those behind bars to find new ways of thinking and being, in order to lead more productive lives, will require a HUGE effort to make this shift.

But persistent prayer is up to the task. Nothing is impossible to God, as the Bible reveals. Let’s take this at face value. And let’s remember that prayer at its essence reveals God’s thoughts to the listening heart. His answers produce the creativity, the insights, the breakthrough innovations and knowledge needed to reform our prison system and reform the heart of each and every inmate in our state prisons, county jails and youth facilities.

While Governor Brown’s inmate “realignment” plan isn’t perfect, it is reducing our prison populations by keeping lesser offenders in county facilities or on parole and, theoretically at least, strengthening drug abuse and other programs to cut down recidivism (return to crime) rates.

Sadly, our prisons remain overcrowded. That’s why the courts ruled June 20 that another 9,600 non-violent, low-risk prisoners be released, even though most of that population have already been released. The remaining, nearly 90 percent of the current prison population, are there for serious or violent felonies.

Can prayer heal them? The short answer is “yes”. It already has. And many of this state’s prison chaplains can testify to the many lives changed, and redeemed through persistent prayer, which includes healing and tenderizing the hearts of the baddest of the bad.

Our work, whether we’re guards, administrators, government officials, judges or chaplains, is to appeal to God for His readily-available answers. And then be willing to put “self-interest” out of the way to better listen and implement His directions.

We need enlightened efforts to solve our state’s prison problems. To solve overcrowding. To resolve poor inmate health issues. To reach our “at risk” youth in time to encourage them into a life of serving others on the right side of the law; and to reduce our state’s current recidivism rate of 65.1 percent, (the highest in the nation), by helping inmates find purpose, meaning and fulfillment on the “outside”.

But these enlightened efforts must, and will ultimately, come from prayer–from a source outside ourselves. Einstein famously said, “The mind that creates the problem cannot solve the problem”. How true. Let’s seek God’s answers. Healing our prisons is not beyond His skill or ability. Each of us, as God’s unique creation, is caused to know His thoughts. Directly. Intimately. Profoundly. His thoughts, when admitted, transform our character to be more in alignment with His. This is what will improve our efforts.

Our governor, and those serving us in our state’s prisons and jails, need our heartfelt prayers–so that they, like all of us, can better hear God’s wise and loving solutions.

This site,, has one purpose: to enable each of us, regardless of our religious or philosophical persuasions, to more effectively pray to hear (and witness) God’s thoughts and solutions for our youth, for our prisons; for those who serve us in them, and for those incarcerated.

So what is God revealing to you? Please share:



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2 thoughts on “Prayer can, and will, heal our California prison system

  1. Clementine Suiffet Reply

    One way I’m praying is to acknowledge each person’s individual purpose in life. Whatever crime was committed can’t be the “end all” for that person. It can’t be how we identify with him or her because, ultimately, that is not how God identifies us. God is the one who made us and loves us as His own son or daughter. Those incarcerated can feel that they are worthy of progressing beyond what they’ve done.

    God has made a promise with us (a covenant as the Bible says) that God will be with us and we will follow Him. This promise is two sided. God keeps His word and we also keep ours by listening and following God’s direction. I know God is speaking to each and every one in what seems to be the darkest of places. It is God’s will for us to do be and do what is good. We are all capable of following Jesus’ simple and profound commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus didn’t accept labels for people. And neither should we.

    Yes, it’s important for there to be an understanding of the impact of people’s actions on others including a desire to live honestly and within the law. And I’m not trying to oversimplify things nor overlook that there are hardened, dangerous criminals. But I don’t want to put a label and accept that they are locked into a behavior pattern based on their environment and other influences.

    God is a God of mercy and justice. There is hope for everyone. These are my prayers.

  2. Cathryn Rathsam Reply

    Thank you, David, for this article which I found to be a good reminder to keep the inmates, staff and prison system in our prayers. God, as Spirit, has infinite inspiration and practical ideas for everyone involved in this system to truly make it restorative and healing. I highly recommend viewing the English film “Greenfingers” based on a true story of a prison warden who gave some of the inmates the opportunity to participate in growing roses and other flowers, plants and vegetables. They even competed in one of the royal garden shows. I won’t spill the beans, other than saying it’s a truly moving film.

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