CIC has begun a special out reach to prisoners that are our senior citizens. Over the past two years we have become aware of an increasing number of older men and women coming into custody. This appears to be in response to a lack of social services due to budget cutbacks in our community. These individuals are very vulnerable due to their age, their infirmities and degrees of dementia. Some of these people are long time addicts and are homeless. They suffer the ravages of living on the street with sub par medical treatment. They also have difficulty connecting with their families and support systems as well as establishing a plan for housing and programs upon their release.
CIC has been reaching out to the senior prisoners in a variety of ways. We help them talk about their losses in life, both deaths that have occurred and lost opportunities. We sit with them and listen to their grieving and discuss new ways of developing faith and hope through the love of God. We help them see the living presence of Jesus in the midst of their pain and suffering.
We see many seniors who are depressed due to end of life issues. They often feel like failures and are without hope. We are there with them to listen and to help them see that there are still possibilities in life. We strive to enable them to see each day as a gift from God to be lived in and with the Spirit of love.
We assist the men and women get into contact with their remaining families and friends, and pastors or spiritual leaders in order to strategize plans upon release and also help them feel more connected and less lonely. Often times our people are confused and scared to reach out, given the ways they may have disappointed loved ones, so we encourage and communicate with their people in the process of reconciliation.
Some times the seniors experience predatory behavior from younger and stronger prisoners and we can help in advocating for their security. We also will refer them to the appropriate medical and mental health personnel when we see them in need.
We are with the older prisoners while they stay in the jail infirmary. We are there to pray and counsel and comfort as they recover from their illness. We are there as they prepare to die in jail. There are few fears as traumatizing as dying alone in jail. We connect them with their families, whenever possible, and help them build and nourish support and fellowship among the other prisoners in the infirmary. We offer worship services, prayer and Bible studies as well as memorial services when one of the women or men dies.
Rev. Ra Amen (see Meet Our Staff page) is responsible for this specific ministry. He has specialized training and experience in serving the seniors.
There are needs of Bibles and literature as well as for volunteers to reach out to our grandfathers and grandmothers as they live in their final days and years.