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Local church volunteers and prison inmates tackle issues of race

Local church volunteers and prison inmates tackle issues of race (WKRC)

LEBANON, Ohio (WKRC) - In a place where some people think there is no hope, inmates are finding just the opposite. Wednesday in the chapel there is fellowship, prayer, and conversation. This is the last week of a program called, "Undivided."

Arlie Samueal has been in prison for roughly five years. He is one of several men who voluntarily comes to the program. He said, "My mama always told me, man God got you, if nobody else got you. So I started coming to church and just getting involved in certain programs."

400 volunteers from Crossroads Church minister in for Ohio prisons. At Lebanon Correctional Institution, volunteers came up with a racial reconciliation program. Men and volunteers made up of different races sit in small groups... talking about issues like prejudice and biases.

"As inmates, sometimes we are segregated and the different groups don't talk to certain groups, but being here we are all compact together," Joseph Harris said. Harris has been in prison for just under a year.

Latasha Patrick is a church volunteer. "We try to connect the dots between Jesus being a reconciler, but then also the guys understanding that racism is a spirit that's not of God," Patrick said.

Through the program, the men are looking not only in race issues but also how to fix the problems. They are also forming friendships with people who they might not have, without being here.

Samueal said, "Stereotypes about this certain individual. We got a stereotype about that certain individual and when we see a person it's like, oh, this is automatically what they think about me and it's really not like that. We really want to get to know each other."

Volunteers know that eventually, most inmates will re-enter society. So for them, it's important to make sure they leave with a better outlook than when they came in.

"I've grown up a lot in here and this experience has definitely opened my eyes to the things that I need to do when I get home," said Harris who is looking forward to seeing his son again.

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