ANNISTON, Ala. -
Inmates at the jail in Anniston had an opportunity for baptism Saturday (2015-06-06) morning.
About five dozen of the prisoners professed their faith and took turns in a trough in an enclosed area at the Calhoun County Jail. A pair of local ministers joined jail chaplain Richard Green in performing the baptisms.
"As of today there will be roughly 1,664 [inmates baptized] in the last six and a half years," Green said.
Sheriff Larry Amerson asked Green to become the jail's full time chaplain in 2008. Corrections officer Judson Blewster said the attitude and belief at the sheriff's office is people can have a true change of heart and have a true change of life.
Blewster said people come to the jail when they hit rock bottom.
"You have nowhere else to go, and what Chaplain Richard Green has done with the Calhoun County Jail ministry is given the people the chance to get themselves out and get back where they need to be and get back up on their feet," Blewster said.
"Hopefully they take it serious. Hopefully it's a way for them to be better parents, be better husbands, better wives, better role models. Change a life so you can go out there and be better contributors to society."
Blewster admitted some inmates are not fully committed to it, but said the same is true for many other people. The chaplain said he believes the prisoners were sincere about getting baptized, and not using it as an opportunity to do something different for entertainment.
"If a person chooses to do this without the true reason, that decision is between them and their maker. Quite frankly I will never know, however, they know, and the rest of their life can be affected by that," Green said.
Christopher Moore is behind bars following arrests for manufacturing methamphetamine and violating probation. He has three children and said he hasn't seen them in a long time as he spent the past six months at the county jail.
Moore is 37 years old, and said he's been in and out of jail for much of his life. He got involved in bible study during a previous stint in prison.
"I did good for a while. I did really good, and then I just got back out there around the same people and let everybody down again. I'm hoping this time I can make it work," he said.
"[This baptism] means starting over fresh. I've burned a lot of bridges out there and done a lot of people wrong. With Jesus, I hope to be able to get all that back."
Moore got a tattoo of a cross on his back in 2009. He said that was one of the years he had his life on track, and it motivated him to avoid trouble for a while.
He plans to use it as a symbolic reminder that Christ is always with him, even when he feels alone in jail.
"I know Jesus forgives us of our sins, but it just makes you wonder how many times will he. How many times can we keep going out there and messing up and Him forgiving us. I'm gonna do my very best to make this the last time," Moore said.
Sonya Lloyd, 44, was among more than a dozen female inmates baptized Saturday morning. Investigators arrested her in July 2014 for possession of a controlled susbstance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She said she is still awaiting court.
Lloyd said she used to be very involved in church, leading a youth group and teaching Sunday school. She went through some rough times, including a divorce, and said she made some bad decisions.
"I got away from the Lord, so here I am now," Lloyd said.
She expressed appreciation for the jail ministry program, and said they help with counseling and give her encouragement.
"If it weren't for God, I would have gone crazy in here, because that's the only thing that's got me through this," Lloyd said.
"It was probably about three months after I got here that I really got back into my Bible, and turned my life over to my Lord, Jesus Christ," she said.
"I prayed for a better life. I wanted out of the life that I was leading, and I asked God to help me get out of it and that's how I believe I ended up here, is God got me out of it."
Lloyd laughed as she said she wishes God would get her out of jail. She said her time behind bars has helped her deal with addition, and no longer wants to abuse drugs as she never wants to be back behind bars.