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Porter County's God Pod inmates look for redemption

Porter County Jail inmate Manny Guerrero, of Cicero, looks out the window of his cell in the God Pod at the jail in Valparaiso. Guerrero says being in jail has forced him to become drug-free and he is grateful because of it.

We all take missteps in life, some obviously bigger than others, and it sometimes goes against our nature to forgive.

But for those who have made mistakes, redemption often can be found by taking steps to admit errors and change life's course.

Such attempts are being made in an intensive Porter County Jail program, aimed at empowering jail inmates to create new beginnings. The program — and those trying to better their lives through it — carries an appropriate lesson of an attempt at rebirth during this Easter holiday.

The program is known as Biblical Life Principles, though inmates have dubbed it the "God Pod." You can read about it today on the front page of The Times.

Volunteers from nine area churches teach classes and provide other support for inmate participants.

Private funding supports the program, including between $5,000 and $7,000 from the Liberty Bible Church, in Liberty Township, during the past year and a half.

Going well beyond teaching the principles of giving from the Bible, the God Pod program also includes classes in conflict resolution, financial management and other life skills. Participants attend meetings of Reformers Unanimous, a faith-based addiction group.

It's all about becoming better people — in some cases better parents, in all cases better citizens — whether the offenders soon will be released back into society or have longer roads of incarceration ahead.

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Anyone following the trends of imprisonment in the United States has heard of inmates who become more hardened — more adept at criminal activity — during prison sentences, only to become more determined criminals once they're released.

The God Pod program is the antithesis of that scenario, seeking committed inmates who are tired of the endless cycle of offending, serving time, re-offending and going back to jail.

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Our society often carries negative views of jails and prisons, writing off the people inside as hopeless. But the God Pod program is a shining example of redemption's promise, even for offenders who've made repeat appearances in our criminal court system.

One Porter County Jail inmate in the program, Roy Castro, is a 25-year-old father of two, who's incarcerated in the jail for the third time in five years — this time awaiting trial on burglary, theft and armed robbery charges.

Castro told The Times he believes the God Pod program is teaching him to be a better man and father — skills he needs to hone whether he's free or imprisoned.

Our justice system demands offenders pay the price for any transgressions of which their convicted.

But Castro and other offenders in the God Pod are doing something with which even free citizens often struggle. They're making an attempt to take control of their lives and become better people — to take responsibility for past transgressions.

We can't think of a better sentiment on this Easter Sunday.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.