Prison Ministry Tips
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Bruce is there anything that you could add to that from your experience – either personally or professionally in the prison setting?
There’s a lot of people within the prison system; they are grieving. And even the fact that they’ve been put in there; they’ve been separated from their families, from their job. For whatever reason, innocent or guilty, they’ve been separated. They’re human. They are grieving. And you go into that situation, no matter what your background experience, and to say “I understand what you’re going through.” is the worst thing to say. You may have some understanding of what they’re going through, but as soon as you say that their defenses are going to go up. The best thing is, when they’re talking about it, is to listen. “Sorry” is an amazing word. “I’m sorry to hear about all this.” If you come with compassion, right?
What are some prison-cultural terms that could be misunderstood?
The term “goof” or “goofy”. You think it’s an innocent term; it’s one of the most serious terms in prison if you call someone a goof. It drives right to the center of them and they want to attack. And that’s hard to understand.
Another term is “kite”. I remember an inmate coming to me and someone was describing a kite in the sky in an illustration. The whole room was, you know, nervous. Even though it was completely different than the term “kite” inside prison. But because the term was used over and over again. “Kite” is what you would hand in to tell on somebody. And the person that would turn in the kite would be called a “rat”.
Finally, whistling. Never whistle. You get everybody’s defenses up when you’re whistling in prison. Even the guards. So, those are some things just to be aware of that people might not normally know about.
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SOURCE: Volunteer Training – EDM
POSTED: Nov 2018
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