“In all my years in law enforcement, all I see is a revolving door here,” said Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon. “Same people coming in and going out. It’s just a revolving door. And I’m tired of seeing that.”
“I want to see a real change in our community,” Moon concluded.
However, inmates who are facing serious charges for theft, drugs, and even murder, now have the option of being baptized.
Heather Heaton, whose 3-year-old son, Brenden, and Grady Leon Goodwin, 79, were killed two years ago in a car wreck when she chose to drive while intoxicated, said her choice is “something heavy that weighs on me daily.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I took your grandfather, your daddy from you.” However, Heaton told reporters that she has found hope and knows her son would be proud of who she is becoming.
The program is part of Redeemed Ministries, an outreach group run by a former convict that comes to the jail to preach the gospel and lead the inmates in worship songs.
“Every one of them was crying, singing the praise songs. It was just a ‘jailhouse religion.’ I felt like, for the most part, it was real to these ladies,” Moon said.
Redeemed Ministries began as a “transition home” for men who had recently completed rehabilitation programs to help them overcome addiction, according to their website.
The site read:
We have been given a unique opportunity to literally see the physical lives of many people saved, to see families restored, and to see true transformation take place in those needing help. We offer people GRACE and TRUTH, in that order. We meet their physical needs and help them get back on their feet, then, teach the life-changing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On June 11, the ministry performed its first baptisms at the jail; 24 male inmates chose to take part.
Sheriff Moon told reporters that baptism is “an outward showing” that an inmate truly desires to be forgiven and begin spiritual rehabilitation.
“This is who I was before I met Jesus Christ, and now, I’m dead and I’m buried. My old self is gone, and I’m resurrected new. And I’m somebody totally different in Jesus,” he concluded.