Freedom Ministries offers invaluable support to inmates, past offenders and their families
BY KRISTIN FRYER, STAFF WRITER
ome politicians say it’s time to get tough on crime. Media reports suggest that we lock criminals up and throw away the key. But for Freedom Ministries, it’s never too late for redemption. Based in Kingston, Ont., the unofficial prison capital of Canada, The Salvation Army’s Freedom Ministries offers inmates, past offenders and their families a variety of programs that include institution and court chaplaincy, postincarceration aftercare and family support groups. The impact of these programs may not make headlines, but for those who have been supported by Freedom Ministries, they provide a path to salvation and rehabilitation. In this article, three past offenders share their stories.
A Cry for Help
“It sounds funny, but going to prison was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m five years sober, I’m close to the Lord and I’ve got people like Reverend Scott Pruden in my life” – Mike Malcolm AT 6’6” AND 275 lbs, Mike Malcolm admits that he’s “always been intimidating,” and he once had the lifestyle to fit his “tough guy” look. “I drank too much and acted like an idiot for most of my life,” he says with frankness. But on August 11, 2007, everything changed. Malcolm’s 17-year-old daughter, Tanya, was being harassed by a 43-year-old man who was encouraging her to do hard drugs. Feeling that he needed to protect his daughter, Malcolm assaulted the man. Right after he committed his crime, Malcolm went to the police station and surrendered. A few days later, he was sent to the Napanee Detention Centre, Ont., and placed in solitary confinement. “At the time, I didn’t know if my victim would survive or if I would be locked up for the rest of my life,” he recalls. “The first night I was at Napanee, this overwhelming feeling came over me and I asked the Lord to send me someone to help me turn my life around.” 12 I July 2012 I Salvationist
Federal parolee Mike Malcolm visits with Freedom Ministries prison chaplain, Reverend Scott Pruden
After he was sentenced to six years for aggravated assault, Malcolm left Napanee and went to Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont., where he started attending a Salvation Army Bible study. “The first time I went, I met a large Salvation Army gentleman named Scott Pruden,” he remembers. “When I put my hand out to shake his hand, the instant he touched me, I knew that the Lord had sent him to help me change my life.” Reverend Pruden supported Malcolm throughout his incarceration and helped him secure a place at Kingston Harbour Light, Ont., so that he could overcome his addiction to alcohol. Since leaving Harbour Light in January 2011, Malcolm has been living with his parents in Denbigh, Ont., a small town about 150 km north of Kingston. Because he is still on parole, and will be until November 2013, he is restricted to travel within 40 km of his residence. This makes it difficult for him to participate fully in Freedom Ministries’ community chaplaincy programs, which provide support for past offenders who are returning from incarceration, helping them reintegrate into society. Still, he gets special passes so that he can attend the Open Door Fellowship (ODF) at least once a month. The ODF is a weekly Bible study that promotes healthy social behaviour, personal responsibility and accountability. The program is directed at past offenders, but regular attendees also include police officers, corrections officers, business people and a sitting Supreme Court judge. “It’s an eclectic group,” says Pruden, who co-ordinates the ODF, “but it’s a melting pot of faith and fellowship in Christ.