39 inmates sought redemption in the water.Their charges varied greatly, ranging from DWI's to rape and murder, but this past Sunday, all 39 inmates of Durham County Jail in North Carolina found a common ground: baptism.
It began with one inmate who had been regularly attending the weekly services at the jail requesting a baptism. The typical fulfillment was a simple sprinkling of water, but Sheriff Mike Andrews decided that it was time to make a grander gesture and open it up to more inmates. That the sheriff's office had been under criticism in recent years with community activists citing three inmate deaths as well as concerns with the quality of life for inmates. Whether or not this directly affected the larger display that the baptisms provided is hard to say. The sheriff decided to focus on something more positive.
“The people that are here today, they’re here because they want to be here and they’re here because they want to make a difference,” he said. “If these individuals who have made this leap of faith want to take this step, I think it’s only befitting that we have ministers from the community that want to assist us for these individuals.”Seven different churches of the community participated and provided their support for the ceremony and had two large pools set up in a secured lot within the high walls just behind the inmates' cells. It allowed for multiple baptisms for the thirty men and nine women inmates who decided to participate.
One inmate, who pleads innocent to his charges, inspired the service by expressing his desire to be baptized and was grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s giving us inmates an opportunity to walk in our faith, and I thank them for what they’re doing,” Minor said of the ritual. “I can’t speak for everybody, but I can speak for myself,” he continued. “I know deep down inside it’s bringing me closer and closer to beliefs, my religion. I just look forward to God to help me, that’s all.”While this was specifically a Christian ceremony, the Durham County Jail provides resources for all faiths and religious backgrounds. H/T: Newsobserver.com, Abc11.com