While the U.S. population has grown 20 percent over the past two decades, the number of people in local, state and federal jails has doubled twice. The prison population has risen for 35 consecutive years to reach the 2.1 million inmates currently held in the nation’s correctional institutions.
Among Duke Divinity School alumni ministering to this population are Mark Hicks D’87, LuAnne Charlton D’04, and Landon Adams D’06.
As chair of the United Methodist Disciple Prison Ministry Task Force in 1998, Hicks helped author a study that became the basis for a thriving prison ministry supported by the Western N.C. and N.C. conferences.
Hicks was called by Bishop Charlene Kammerer in 1999 to become the first executive director of Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries of NC (DBOM) Inc. Since then, the program has expanded to 70 correctional institutions across North Carolina, trained more than 300 lay and clergy volunteers, and ministered to more than 6,000 inmates.
Charlton has served as associate director for DBOM, coordinating local church programs. She currently serves as minister of education at Hayes Barton UMC in Raleigh, N.C., and as consultant for the DBOM RINGS (Responsibility, Invitation, Neighbors, God and Service) of Fellowship program.
The program was developed in association with the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to reach young people in the correctional system. According to the DBOM Website, it uses the Disciple Bible model “to reach teens in an innovative format that promotes spiritual growth and positive peer dynamics.” Charlton is a member of Cokesbury’s national training team for Disciple Bible Study.
Adams is the first executive director of the Triangle Lost Generation Task Force, which was founded in 1995 by the Rev. Dr. David C. Forbes Sr. In partnership with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, Wake County Schools, the Raleigh Police Department and the county’s parks and recreation department, the task force works with minority youth, particularly from Hispanic and African-American backgrounds, to help them make decisions that will keep them out of the criminal justice system.
Adams was a chaplain intern at the federal correctional complex in Butner while at The Divinity School. In a recent Raleigh News & Observer article, he said, “It takes a child to sustain a village. If the children are lost, then the village will be no more.”