Reported by Nigel Boys
Gina Hanna, former inmate who now runs Beauty for Ashes, a prison ministry based in Platte City, Missouri that helps women overcome the difficulties they face in and out of prison, believes that Christ can help women sort out their problems and return to a normal life.
Imprisoned for drug related offenses, Hanna was forced to decide what she would do when she was eventually freed. She could either go back from whence she came, but that would mean she might be influenced into doing wrong again, or she could start a new life and hope to reconcile with her children later.
Hanna chose the latter of the two options and she is really glad she decided to put her faith in Christ and let Him work out how she would achieve a better life. Hanna is now reunited with her children, gainfully employed, and helping other women overcome the difficulty in returning to society when they are released from prison.
However, helping the more than 100,000 women who are imprisoned in the U.S. is no easy task Hanna says. She adds that most of them are African-American or Hispanic, who are imprisoned for drug-related offenses or nonviolent crimes and almost all of them have a history of domestic or s*xual abuse.
One of the hardest parts in helping these women, according to Hanna, is to find them a career that’ll help them on their feet when they are released from prison. She adds that there is plenty of work for women in jobs such as nursing, child care, and home health care, but due to the restrictions some states place on former inmates, these women are not suitable for employment.
Lynn Litchfield, who has served for 11 years as chaplain for a women’s correctional facility in Troy, Virginia, believes that one of the main problems imprisoned women face is the influence their incarceration has on their offspring. She adds that it’s quite common to find grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter all serving time together in the same facility.
However, Hanna firmly believes that faith in Christ and support from a local church when they are released, will help the women again become useful members of society.
“We try to address the issues that cause the incarceration of women — past trauma, childhood abuse, poverty, finances,” said Hanna. She continued, “We deal with relationship issues, including marriage, how to have healthy boundaries, parenting classes, connecting them to organizations which handle employment and housing.”