Murphy speaks at prison volunteer workshop

Retired Mehlville School District Principal Mitch Murphy recently returned from Anchorage, Alaska, where he participated in a workshop for volunteers in corrections.

At the workshop, which was conducted at the Anchorage Church of Christ, Murphy made two presentations, according to a news release. Several other speakers and presenters also conducted small-group sessions and keynote addresses. Also included was a panel of ex-offenders who fielded questions from the audience.

Another speaker, Larry West, the chaplain of Folsom State Prison in California, reported data from a Gallup Poll that noted a significant decrease in recidivism among inmates who were involved in religious studies that helped them restructure their behavior patterns.

In his comments, Murphy observed a growing need for trained volunteers in corrections.

Citing numbers from the Missouri Department of Corrections, he told the audience that in 1984 Missouri had 8,098 inmates, by 1994 the number had increased to around 17,000, and today the population has grown to about 30,000.

“It is important,” he said, “that volunteers do their part to assist the inmates, improve skills, outlooks and behaviors. With an increase in population, DOC (department of corrections) personnel currently are stretched too thin to accomplish this goal on their own.”

Murphy became involved as a volunteer in 1994 when he provided transportation to a family he knew who needed a ride to the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center at Pacific to visit their son who had been incarcerated there. Over time, his involvement has increased as he has served as a facilitator for the inmate developed “Violent Offender Program” at MECC and a teacher of Bible classes.

This is the second “National Jail/Prison Ministry Workshop” for the Churches of Christ at which he has spoken. He also made a presentation at the conference that was conducted last year in Searcy, Ark.