Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

November 9, 2013

Returning Hearts in prison

VALDOSTA — In today’s editions of The Valdosta Daily Times, readers should find a story about a group of Valdosta State Prison inmates who earned a fun day with their children.

For the past year, through the help of prison chaplain Pat Miller and volunteers like Bill Newcomb, these prisoners have participated in a Malachi Dads program that prepares them to be better fathers even though they are behind bars. Each week, prisoners meet for sessions. They have homework. They must complete reading assignments. They must be model inmates.

Miller selects participating inmates carefully. He vets their backgrounds, the nature of their crimes, where they are in their prison sentences, how they have behaved in prison.

Once selected, the inmates must walk the line. Get in trouble, fail to complete assignments, miss two weekly sessions, they are out of the program.

But if they stick with the program, they can acquire the tools to reach out to their children and possibly build a relationship as a father to a child. The chaplain and volunteers do not make contact for the inmates. There is no guarantee the children will respond. Another family member may block the child from receiving letters from the inmate. A child may refuse to accept the letters, but the men are shown how to take their first steps in building a bridge from father to child.

On Saturday, with their course work completed, Valdosta State Prison hosted a Returning Hearts Celebration. For several hours, children were allowed into the prison to visit their fathers. Not all of the participating inmates’ children attended. Some of the attending children were youngsters; some were adults.

While children can come during any regular visitation, this celebration allowed inmates to play games with their children, carry their children, or hold their hands.

Some folks may read today’s story and wonder why so much effort would be spent on inmates who have committed robbery, rape and murder? Why would people volunteer to help people who have committed crimes?

Because even behind prison bars, there must be some glimmer of hope, these volunteers say. As the chaplain has said in the past, many of these men will one day return to the outside world. Why not allow them to build family and godly relationships that may change their relationships with society when that release date comes?

Or these volunteers may well remember their verses from Matthew, the ones which speak of clothing the naked, helping the hungry and thirsty, visiting those in prison. The verse that opens: “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Text Only
What We Think
  • Missing persons: Fill in the blanks

    Missing persons cases are tough. They are tough because they are vague.

    April 20, 2014

  • He is Risen

    Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

    April 19, 2014

  • Thumbs up

    THUMBS UP: To Carol Mikkelsen. Valdosta State University Opera’s “Dido and Aeneas” marks the last production before Mikkelsen’s retirement
    after 44 years with Valdosta State and the creation of the opera program. She plans to continue
    working with VSU part-time, but this weekend’s performance marks her last full-time participation with the opera productions. Ovations all around for her work.

    April 18, 2014

  • Feed the hungry, adopt a duck

    If you haven’t already adopted a duck, you have a little more than a week to do so.

    April 17, 2014

  • If I were mayor

    Each year, the City of Valdosta holds an essay contest, “If I Were Mayor,” with students in the area writing their ideas about what they would do as the head of the city.

    April 16, 2014

  • The real lessons of a mock drill

    Valdosta High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions held a powerful mock demonstration Monday morning on the school’s campus.

    April 14, 2014

  • Kudos to VPD

    Followed by a stellar report on Sunday about the drop in the crime rate in the City of Valdosta, city police officers prove their worth once again by arresting a dangerous fugitive in our community.

    April 13, 2014

  • It just plain stinks

    After every rain event, the pungent smell of sewage can be detected around the rivers and streams of south Georgia, and Florida residents brace for more to float their way.

    April 13, 2014

  • Pennsylvania school stabbings: Why?

    The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, April 10:

    April 11, 2014

  • European bans on emails unlikely in America

    Several European countries are banning work emails to employees before and after normal working hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., in an effort to curb the perceived abuse of employees by corporations.

    April 11, 2014

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results