San Rafael's First United Methodist Church is in relationship with San Quentin families as a part of its parish network – and last Saturday, the church hosted an event titled "The Inside Story: Personal Stories of Incarceration and Rehabilitation." Former inmates at San Quentin and wives of inmates talked about their personal experiences – telling tales of tragedy, frustration, rehabilitation, and hope – and helping their audience understand what it means to be incarcerated and what rehabilitation can be.
"In the last 20 years our criminal justice system has become unjust in the ways in which sentencing, incarceration, and parole are structured and lived out," says the Rev. Liza Klein, the church's pastor. "There are huge inequities and great waste of human and economic resources. Most of the people in our jails and prisons can become productive citizens with counseling, education, and employment training.
"I believe in redemption – spiritual and personal. Our incarceration system used to be based on the assumption that rehabilitation was valuable. Now we have gone another way, a way that makes 'throw-away people.' Christ said, 'I was in prison and you visited me.'
"These are human beings, and God's people. We should care."
San Rafael First United Methodist Church is located at 9 Ross Valley Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901.