Every woman locked up at the Plymouth Workhouse has a story as to how they got here.
"I'm here on a probation violation," said Cindee Markie.
"I'm a drug addict," said Alyssa Busch.
"My fourth DWI and felony fleeing police in a motor vehicle," said Sade Pruitt.
"Auto thefts, burglaries," said Amber Childs.
"Movies, you know, [weren't] really funny to me unless I had a big blunt next to me," added Kotresha Brown.
But despite their faults and their crimes, Jenna Healy Johnson and Stacey Larson want to lead these women on the path to a better life.
"They're so used to being judged and criticized and looked down upon," said Healy Johnson of Jewel Ministries. "And just to tell them that God loves them, that he doesn't frown upon them, that he wants to help them."
They use the word of God to get their message across yet for many of the women gathered in the small room at the Plymouth Workhouse, the message is made stronger by the fact that Jenna and Stacey have walked in their shoes.
"I got into alcohol and drugs, and that led me to drug dealing," explained Larson. "I caught my case in 2001 for drug trafficking and ended up in federal prison."
"I have dealt with [alcohol], and partying and drugs and bad relationships," added Healy Johnson,
Their experiences are something the inmates know all too well.
"It helps to be able to relate," Busch said.
"The way Stacey and Jenna, they just relate to you and then they just kind of give it to you straight," said Pruitt.
"It's easier for you to accept what they're saying, compared to someone who's never been in it," Childs said.
That's why Jenna and Stacey come back to Plymouth every two weeks.
"We've had so many testimonies just telling us how things have changed," Healy Johnson said.
Testimonies in the form of letters, or something as simple as attentive eyes during every visit.
Yet for each of the inmates, incarceration is only temporary.
But if they somehow return to the Plymouth Workhouse, Larson says it's all part of a journey.
"If they don't get it in the first round, maybe they'll get it in the second round," Larson said. "I don't condemn them."
Meanwhile, in addition to the Plymouth Workhouse, Jenna also leads bible study at the prison in Shakopee and speaks at churches and various group meetings around the Twin Cities.
Ultimately both women want to spread their message to prisons around the world.
If you want to learn more about them and what they do, you can go to their website at www.jewelministries.com
Aug. 24, 2012