Jailhouse Jesus

The term ‘Jailhouse Jesus‘ refers to people who ‘find’ god after they are locked up in prison. When all doors are closed and you find yourself confined or on death row, faced with social ostracism and shame, the last resort is to reawaken or cultivate anew, faith, and find the strength to accept and move on. A famous example is of Malcolm X, who was imprisoned for the many crimes he committed, but went through transformative experiences once he turned to faith, becoming a minister for Nation of Islam initially, before moving on to other beliefs.

On the other hand, someone like Sri Aurobindo, during his solitary confinement, found inspiration in the Gita and Upanishads, and he trained himself to meditate long hours to centre his mind. Anyone can lose physical and mental health if jailed for a long time, which is why Kiran Bedi, IPS, as Inspector General of Prisons, introduced Vipassana and Yog to inmates, giving them a chance to heal and come to terms with themselves and with life. There is scope for repentance, forgiveness and for renewed hope.

With faith and spiritual practice, convicts get the chance to move from being viewed as sinners to believers, giving them a constructive coping strategy and a chance to lead reformed lives, becoming socially acceptable. Faith helps one to gain control over one’s mind and life in positive directions, for not everyone has the strength and will power to achieve all of this without the help of faith.


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