How was the Kairos Weekend Conducted?
Locations where conducted
There are 195 countries/nations in the world. If the 50 states were each independent countries this would give us 245 countries/nations. Alabama as one of those 245 countries/nations would have the fifth-highest rate of incarceration in the world (987/100,000). It dwarfs the rate of incarceration of every country/nation around the globe, including those of countries like Iraq, Cuba and Syria. (http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/alabamas_incarceration_rate_fi.html)
Fountain Correctional Facility
G.K. Fountain Correctional Facility opened in 1928 and is located on 8,200 acres about seven miles north of Atmore, AL on Highway 21. The facility was named in honor of an officer killed in the line of duty. Fountain offers vocational programs through the Jefferson Davis Community College and provides trade opportunities in agricultural operations. Fountain is classified as a medium custody correctional facility.
Alabama spent $3,234 per inmate on health care in 2015, less than any other state except Louisiana. (http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/10/report_says_alabama_next_to_la.html)
The state prison system only has 15.2 doctors and 12.4 dentists for more than 25,000 prisoners. Daphne about 24,896 (estimated for 2017), 76 Primary Care Doctors in Daphne, AL
Alabama has the most overcrowded prison system in the nation: More than 27,000 inmates are housed in a system designed for half that number. (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/violent-overcrowded-alabama-prisons-hit-a-breaking-point%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B)
The state’s prisons had just 45.6 percent of their authorized officers working in the prisons in September. Four medium-security facilities – Bibb, Easterling, Fountain/J.O. Davis and Ventress – had less than a third of their authorized officers working in the facilities. Fountain correctional facilities, the ratio exceeded 20 inmates for every one corrections officer. (http://whnt.com/2017/01/11/number-of-prison-guards-in-alabama-drops-20-percent-amid-concerns-of-violence-and-conditions/)
Inmate to Correctional Officer Ratio 2015(US): 4.1
On March 11 2016, Holman (across from Fountain), with just 17 guards overseeing more than 900 prisoners (1-53), a fight broke out between two inmates. An officer trying to break it up was stabbed, as was the warden. Video uploaded to Facebook by an inmate using a smuggled cell phone captured some of the mayhem. Still on lockdown down weeks later.
In 2016 the prison had the reputation of the most violent in the country, due to overcrowding and understaffing. That year the Department of Justice initiated an investigation at the prison of conditions for both prisoners and officers.
PBS program on Alabama overcrowding – April 2016.
Designed Capacity: 719
Current Beds: 1258
Occupancy Rate: 158%
Fountain pay: Entry-level pay for officers begins at $28,516
Alabama is one of only three states that allow judges to override jury sentencing recommendations, and the only state that allows a judge without restriction to override when the jury votes for a life sentence.
How many know what Kairos is?
Kairos Inside is a ministry whose mission is to develop a Christian community inside prisons.
The Kairos Inside program brings positive and negative leaders together, in both male and female institutions, for a 3 ½ day Weekend led by same gender Kairos volunteers.
The Weekend is based on:
• A series of talks,
• Chapel meditations, and
• Creating a Christian community.
For many participants, the Kairos Weekend creates the desire to become a Christian, and for others the desire to continue his/her spiritual growth.
The Kairos program concept is to build the Christian community inside the institution where the Kairos Community prays and fellowships together on a regular basis. These are called “Prayer-and-Share” Groups and meet weekly.
In addition, each month Kairos volunteers return for a “Reunion” of the entire Kairos community. The fact that we return again and again to each prison is what distinguishes Kairos from other prison ministries. Without our follow up support, the efforts of the 3 ½ day retreat would quickly be lost to the prison environment.
Prison Violence Often Decreases
As the Kairos Christian community inside a prison grows and begins to gain influence, the incidence of violence decreases.
Kairos Can Reduce Recidivism Rates up to 50%
In a study of 505 inmates released from Florida prisons, the recidivism rate was reduced by half for Kairos Graduates, dropping as low as 10%.
They re-entered the outside world with a God-centered perspective and a new desire to become productive citizens.
Inmates see the population is calmer when we are there. The inmates believe Fountain is a safer place because of Kairos Consider Angola (5000 inmatres – 2000 Kairos graduates – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mVrFVpUpEA
What can you do to be a Kairos volunteer:
Be a Team Member – see Jack Justice, Inside and Outside team
Be a Prayer Partner – prayer chain
Be a Financial Donor – It does take money
Be a Support Volunteer – Work in the weekend ministry
Be an Agape (artwork) Creator – youngsters
Be a Cookie Baker – get to eat some hot cookies as you bake.
How Kairos is Conducted
How does it work?
We have six training sessions prior to the Kairos. Then, there is a Saturday retreat the weekend before at Kaiser Center, KC. We, each team member, wrote 42 agape letters – one to each inmate. The KC is a home near Atmore where the owner has donated space, setup facilities and storage for the Kairos program at Fountain and Holman.
The purpose of Karios is not to go in and convert but to present God to the MIW and that is it – it is not a ‘sales pitch’. The MIW have to make up their mind!
There are two teams which present the weekend session, the Inside and Outside teams. Women may participate in the outside team but not the inside team – Fountain is a men’s correctional facility.
Why do we do it?
Read Matthew 25:31-46
Primarily responsible for
• The preparation of food for meals for the Men in White (MIW). This means cooking HBs, slicing tomatoes, onions, chopping lettuce, making banana pudding, etc.
• Transportation to the facility – food and discussion/poster materials – support materials for the inside team
• Prayers for the services/speakers during the day
Inside Team – daily schedule
The Inside team (the Men in Color -MIC) were responsible for going into the prison and presenting the Karios program. Every day, we would arrive at 0700 and stay until about 1900. There are 42 MIW and about 20 MIC.
Topics such as meditations, talks, prayers, singing were done in the chapel – which could seat about 100. Lunch, supper, breaks, discussions of talks, poster designs were done in an adjacent tent which was about the same size as the chapel and was located immediately next to the chapel.
A typical day starts with cookies, then into the chapel for morning prayers and a mediation/talk. After the talk, we go to the tent to discuss the talk and perhaps do a poster describing the mediation/talk. There are two to three talks in the morning and the same in the afternoon. In between each mediation/talk we would go to the tent and have a break/cookies or discussion/cookies. They did like the cookies! Lunch was about 1130-1200 and the afternoon schedule is, pretty much, the same as the morning.
Supper was around 5 PM. After supper, we would have a mediation/talk with a discussion. We usually wrapped up around 7-7:30 with evening prayers.
After evening prayers the Inside Team then headed to KC for a team meeting to review the day’s activities with the Outside Team. Both teams would spend some time to get ready for the next day.
Speakers came from many different walks of life, some of the speakers had been in Fountain, some had regular jobs, etc.
Spiritual counseling was available for all as they wanted.
We arrive and go into the prison that afternoon, organize into families and start the program.
The program was as described earlier, a series of prayers, meditations, cookies, talks, discussions, cookies, meals, posters, cookies.
Morning – pretty much the same format as Friday.
Late Saturday afternoon we had “Open mic time”. The MIW were all given the opportunity to come forward and say what was on their heart to all of us. It was reaffirming to hear them say they had changed and were now all brothers, the MIW and the MIC. They had released their anger and are now able to forgive others.
They truly came together today – even in a place like Fountain God is there and changes men’s lives. Some will never leave Fountain but God has placed them there for a purpose! He is there to let them know he loves them, forgives them and that they are his children
The schedule was pretty much as the previous days. At the end of the day the last question that was asked of the MIW was: What is your takeaway from this weekend.
They responded in many ways but they all told us they had found love for their fellowman, love and joy which they had not known for many years. They were now able to talk with others and express their relationship with God.
Botton line for this Kairos experience – God is everywhere and although we may feel He is absent from a prison – this is not true. God is everywhere and certainly entered into these men’s lives. They found peace, forgiveness and hope!
How can you participate?
If you would like to participate please contact Jack/Diana Justice, Ken Cooper, Rob Rodriguez or Ed Glaize through the church office: (251) 928-1148 or through the church directory on your smartphone.