This weekend at the Durham County jail in North Carolina, 39 inmates—some of whom are locked up for crimes including rape and murder—were baptized by ministers from seven local churches. The event was organized at the prompting of an inmate who told reporters, “It’s my faith. I’m a Christian. Like all Christians, we believe Jesus is the way.”
The sheriff allowed for two wading pools to be set up in the jail’s parking lot, and gave each of the individuals Bibles and Bible study materials after they were baptized.
Sheriff Mike Andrews told Charlotte’s News & Observer,
We all get limited time on Earth. We’re all just passing through. The people that are here today, they’re here because they want to be here and they’re here because they want to make a difference. If these individuals who have made this leap of faith want to take this step, I think it’s only befitting that we have ministers from the community that want to assist us for these individuals.
One of the inmates told the paper, “It’s giving us inmates an opportunity to walk in our faith, and I thank them for what they’re doing.”
As The News & Observer notes, the jail has gone through a federal review after three inmates died at the facility in recent years. And though the feds said that the jail met federal standards, they did recommend changes, particularly to help inmates suffering from mental illness.