Volunteers provide spiritual and life skill help to inmates, others

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – A Sunday afternoon church service highlights the week for about 50 inmates at the Alcorn County regional jail.
“Our attendance is a good percentage compared with other prisons,” said volunteer Ted Rider, who helps coordinate programs for the inmates. The average population at the facility, which first received prisoners in May, has been about 250 state and 50 county inmates.
The Sunday service is conducted by Josh Hodum, who serves as chaplain and also is pastor of Gospel Tabernacle in Corinth.
With Hodum and other volunteers, Rider launched a series of anger management classes last week. Another class in discipleship and an alcohol and drug treatment program are scheduled to begin in the coming weeks.
“These guys have really been getting into the services, singing, paying attention and showing interest,” said Warden Chad Roberts. “We’ve been fortunate that so far discipline has not been an issue here, but part of what these programs do is help return a better product to society.”
The classes are provided through Life in Focus Education, a charity-based nationwide community service program of seminars provided to people in prisons and jails, as well as probationers and parolees.
“They provide all of this service to us at no cost to Alcorn County,” Roberts said.
Trained volunteers with the Life in Focus Education Program, founded in 2004 and based in Corpus Christi, Texas, also can offer classes in finance management, grant writing and employment development, according to information on its website.
The alcohol and drug treatment program, called ACTS, is a court-approved substance abuse program.
“If an inmate was incarcerated on a drug charge, they are required to complete a local program, and ACTS fulfills that requirement,” Rider said.
Each class meets for 12 weeks and the approximately 20 inmates who attend each class will receive a certificate when they complete it.
Not only is Hodum giving volunteer service in his home county – Alcorn – he also serves as state coordinator for the Life in Focus Education Program for the state of Tennessee.
“It’s been a blessing to have this dedicated group of volunteers come to work with us,” Roberts said.

Click video to hear audio