Lancaster County Inmates Say They’ve Found God Behind Bars

KERSHAW, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – More than a dozen inmates at Kershaw Correctional Institution in Lancaster County got a chance to redeem themselves, but not in the way you may think.

The second chance did not come from a judge, but from a much higher carrier of justice.

Monday behind the bars of Kershaw Correctional Institution in Lancaster County, the power and grip of sin for thirty eight inmates they say have now been washed clean.

“They are having hope, they are getting hope for a changed life”, says Chaplain Jerry Potoka.

“I am renewed I am redeemed”, says Chris.

Chris, whose identity and last name we were asked to conceal, was one of the inmates baptized at the Kershaw Correctional Facility in Lancaster County.

He has been in and out of prison for seven years, but today marks the start of a new beginning.

“I can’t forgive myself at times for the things I’ve done, I struggle with that, but knowing that He does forgive me and He’s cast my sins from as far as the east is to the west, is an overwhelming feeling for me”, says Chris.

Volunteers with Elevation Church, Blakeney campus have been coming to Kershaw Correctional Institution every Monday to share a message of hope to these inmates, some serving shorter sentences, others facing a lifetime in prison. They’ve been working with this group for the last five months.

“We want them to feel loved and we want them to know that we are here for them”, says Jacklyn Catanzaro, Outreach Director with Elevation Church.

Those being baptized say they now have a relationship with God, For those who will soon be released, it means they will come out as better people.

“We do everything from how to be a better dad, a better husband, a better citizen, how to think different and reduce their criminal thinking. The more they do that here we hope they will do when they get back home”, says Potoka.

The ceremony is part of the prison’s church program, put on by volunteers from Elevation Church.

Because of programs like this, the state Department of Corrections says South Carolina has the lowest return-to-prison rate in the nation.

There are more than twelve hundred inmates in the Kershaw Correctional Institution, which is a medium security facility.

Leaders say these baptism ceremonies have been taking place for years.

After the baptism, the inmates are now enrolled into a discipleship program called MisFits that will follow up with the men.

There is a wait list to even get into the program because of the impact inmates see it having on others.

State leaders say since eighty five percent of inmates get out within five years, its important to use the time they are in prison to make them better through these outreach programs. They add its good for public safety, their families and tax dollars.

Previous articleCarolina Connection – Historic Rock Hill – Events Throughout the Year
Next articleTrail Talks of New Master Plan in Fort Mill