'Beauty for ashes'

Isaiah 61:3 speaks of how God can give us beauty for ashes. Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois and many other areas in the country have experienced devastating floods in recent weeks. But like the biblical promise, there have been some positives to come out of this time of distress.

Between April 30 and May 4, minimum security inmates from the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, the Farmington Correctional Center, the Potosi Correctional Center and the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre filled 55,000 sandbags in an effort to hold back the disastrous flooding in Southeast Missouri.

While residents in the flooded communities are grateful for this support, the inmates also benefit from their efforts.

Corrections experts say restorative justice -- a theory focusing on repairing harm the inmates have caused through their past behavior -- plays a role in the healing process for these offenders and the outside world.

Sometimes those of us in the outside world forget that prisoners are people too. And some of these individuals will one day be set free and be reintroduced to society. By allowing these individuals opportunities to rehabilitate while serving their time in prison, we not only do the inmates a favor but our communities as well.

While we're saddened by the damage the flooding has caused, we're grateful to the inmates who participated in the sandbagging and those who helped make the arrangement possible.