Local resident Fred Fogle has spent a lot of time in prison. Not because he’s paying off a debt to society, but rather, helping others incarcerated find a better path in life.
Fogle, 72, is part of a prison ministry called Kairos, a name derived from a Greek word that means the right or opportune moment, or an undetermined period of time in which something special happens.
Kairos operates in 270 prisons in 33 states and internationally in England, Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica and Canada.
In Ohio, the ministry is in eight prisons: Marion Correctional, Lebanon Correctional, Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ross Correctional, Trumbull Correctional, Ohio State Penitentiary, Toledo Correctional and the Southern Ohio Correctional facility in Lucasville.
Interest in joining the organization gripped Fogle while he was participating in a prayer and share program with his church, Christ Episcopal Church, in Huron.
“I have been in Kairos since 1999 and have been visiting the Marion prison,” Fogle said.
He is quick to point out the group has little interest in proselytizing or Bible thumping to inmates, but instead, presenting an alternative to their current lives.
Volunteers go to correctional facilities and conduct a three-day short course in Christianity to prisoners.
Those incarcerated who join the ministry are then asked to participate in a reunion weekend, held once a month for 12 consecutive months.
An added aside to entice a visit from prisoners is some homemade baked goods. Getting success through the stomach certainly is a good tool when trying to get good attendance in a prison.
A report released this week by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction stated the prison population should increase by 37 percent in the next 10 years, as a projected total of 65,000 prisoners will be placed in state custody.
The report indicated Ohio needs to find an alternative way to deal with the situation instead of building more jails. Fogle thinks he is participating in a group holding an answer.
“People who go through Kairos, there is less than 10 percent recidivism among them,” he said.
“It is about 70 percent in a group that does not participate. We are making a difference.”
The budget for next year put together by Fogle calls for between $7,000-$8,000 for the baked goods. Money and volunteers are always needed for the non-profit.
To volunteer or donate to Kairos, contact Fogle at BFFogle50@BEX.net