06 February 2011

Keeping Silence

The thirteen prisons in the state observed a moment of silence on Sunday at 1:35pm to honor Officer Jayme Biendl. It was her birthday.

Her death a week ago has affected corrections officers as well as police officers and their families, offenders and their families, Department of Corrections decision-makers and staff. There's a huge running debate on news blogs about the dangers of women working in prisons--mostly written by people who have no idea what it is like to work in prison. Much of the knee-jerk reaction amounts to, "Make life miserable for anyone behind bars. They deserve it."

Every now and then someone will remind those commenting that 96% of those in prison will someday be returning to the community. What kind of mood do you want them to be in when they get out?

There are serious questions to be addressed: Why didn't anyone look for the chapel officer when they located the missing offender in the chapel? Why did it take an hour before anyone went looking for her? What will be done to begin the healing?

In the town where I live, a "Moment of Blessing" happens any place there has been a murder. It is a way of reclaiming the space, a way to say, "There was more to this person than how she died." In that spirit, I hope there is some special prayer in the chapel at Monroe, that people will gather to reclaim the goodness that can happen in prison. Jayme Biendl was part of that goodness.



Kathleen said...

I am so sorry about the correctional officer's death, and the grief and worry for the local and prison community. I'm sure many prisoners are grieving, as well as her fellow officers, family, and friends.

Thank you for honoring her with silence and your concerns.

I send you comfort from afar. And hopes for the safety and healing of your community.

jerry said...

Shannon, that was well-stated and thought provoking, especially re: how many people have no compassion for people in prison. Many out here in the world are not interested in helping the incarcerated find new ways to have a better life and make a positive difference in society, when they are released. They can't seem to think that far ahead and realize that changes now can make a better tomorrow for all of us.

Jayme Biendi's death is a tragedy and the questions that you mention must be addressed, hopefully leading to actions that might prevent a similiar horror from occuring in the future.

I pray for Jayme, her family, the people she worked with, you and your ministry, for the incarcerated everywhere and also for the man that is responsible for Jayme's death.

You're doing a lot of good work for God!

claire said...

I'm one of the lucky folks who know that, hadn't I been darn lucky in the past, hadn't my guardian angel worked over time, I might have ended up in jail too, for whatever stupid reason.

I also remember that Jesus can be found in prison... I'm so glad you're His ambassador there :-)