Curtis has spent the last seven years studying the Bible through Crossroads. For the last four years, he has received consistent spiritual guidance and personal encouragement from his Tier 2 mentor, John. In 2021, he began his first Tier 3 course, with John still by his side. But this January, due to new mail protocols in Curtis’s facility, Curtis and John’s communication was cut off completely. This interruption of mail service has disconnected Curtis from one of the few supportive people in his life.
Growing up, Curtis didn’t have many positive role models. He chose to spend his time with friends who led him down a destructive path.
“I used to smoke weed almost every day, which helped kill my brain cells. I was also an alcoholic who used to drink at least four out of seven days a week,” Curtis remembered. “This behavior kept me behind on my bills and got me fired from a couple of jobs. All I wanted to do was get high and drunk and chase women. The only rule [my friends and I] lived by was don’t get caught!”
Eventually, though, he was caught, and he landed in prison with two concurrent thirty-year sentences. “By the grace of God, they ran them both together,” Curtis said.
While in prison, Curtis heard the good news of the Gospel and surrendered his life to Christ. “I asked God to restore my mind back to sanity and I would serve Him for the rest of my days, and He did just that,” Curtis stated.
Since then, Curtis has turned his life around. He earned his high school equivalency diploma, he no longer smokes or drinks and he has stayed out of trouble during the seven years he has served so far. He has also been growing spiritually through his Crossroads Bible studies.
“The Crossroads family has helped me out more than I can ever put into words. I love them all for all their support,” Curtis said. “I always look forward to hearing from my Crossroads mentor.”
John also eagerly anticipates lessons from Curtis and was disappointed to learn that his Christmas card to Curtis was rejected and returned to Crossroads. He faced further disappointment when he learned that Curtis wasn’t getting lessons or letters, either.
“It was a shock when I found out,” John said. “I’m always really blessed and encouraged by reading Curtis’s answers. He seems very grounded in his faith, and I enjoy corresponding with him. The unknown is hard; I know he looks forward to his lessons, so it’s hard to know he’s not getting his mail. I am praying the mail will start to come through again.”
Curtis and John’s relationship is not the only one interrupted by these mail issues. Twenty-eight men in Curtis’s facility in Wisconsin are Crossroads students.
In December 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections began partnering with an outside organization to photocopy incoming mail to avoid bringing in paper that may have been sprayed or soaked with drugs. Although photocopies of all pieces of mail should still reach the intended recipients, this does not seem to be happening in every case. We believe that this is an unintended consequence of the new safety restrictions, as Crossroads is an established, trustworthy organization.
While we understand and respect the DOC’s safety protocols, we are actively working to find a solution that will allow us to reconnect our students in Wisconsin with their mentors so their vital relationships can continue.
To prevent roadblocks to mail in other regions of the country, Joe Pryor, Crossroads’ president and CEO, recently attended the 2022 Southern Region Meeting of the Correctional Leaders Association and spoke with several commissioners and program directors. They all expressed willingness to support Crossroads as we seek solutions to mail-access issues.
Please join us in praying for this situation to be resolved. Pray that Crossroads staff can advocate on students’ behalf to ensure that they receive their mail. Pray that Curtis will remain in the Word and hold on to hope as he waits to hear from John and from Crossroads.