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#MakingADifference - Ruth Boyd

#MakingADifference - Ruth Boyd

#MakingADifference - Ruth Boyd - at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center VolunteerOklahoma Department of Corrections volunteer Ruth Boyd says her love of helping inmates began with her father ages ago. 

Her father, James Garner, a government professor at what’s now known as Southern Nazarene University, held a regular Bible study at the Oklahoma County jail. 

The stories he would tell her, Boyd says, of the inmates at the facility enthralled her and her siblings. He passed on a love of service to her, and she’s been volunteering at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud for 27 years. 

“There are just so, so many people who have gotten a raw deal,” says Boyd, 78, who, with her husband, Jim, holds a weekly Bible study at the minimum security prison for women. 

Oklahoma has led the nation in female incarceration for more than a generation. Getting to reach women in prison through ministry is her passion, especially connecting with women serving long sentences for relatively minor offenses. 

“Some have gotten such unjust sentences to begin with,” says Boyd, who thinks of one inmate in particular, facing multiple concurrent sentences that add up to more than 130 years behind bars. 

“She had eight kids, all of them delivered at home, with no water or electricity … She’ll be in prison for 130 years. She’s one of the nicest people you’ve ever met in your life.” 

Each week, around 40-70 inmates will attend their sessions, called Joy Bible Study. Boyd volunteers at MBCC through Crossings Community Church in Edmond. 

Boyd leads the classes, helping attendees understand and relate to texts in the Bible that relate to what they’re going through. 

What makes it all worth it is helping them realize that they can change their lives’ course if they make the effort. 

“When they get to the bottom, and so many times, they cry out to God for help,” Boyd says. “That’s what I see happen with so many of the women in Joy Bible Study – they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.” 

While more research needs to be done, access to religious programming like Joy Bible Study has shown promise in helping improve inmates’ chances at avoiding prison after they release. 

Without the work of volunteers like Boyd and her husband, it is likely that hundreds of former inmates would be more likely to return to prison later. 

Boyd leads the classes, helping attendees understand and relate to texts in the Bible that relate to what they’re going through. 

What makes it all worth it is helping them realize that they can change their lives’ course if they make the effort. 

“When they get to the bottom, and so many times, they cry out to God for help,” Boyd says. “That’s what I see happen with so many of the women in Joy Bible Study – they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.” 

Mabel Bassett Correctional Center volunteer Ruth BoydWhile more research needs to be done, access to religious programming like Joy Bible Study has shown promise in helping improve inmates’ chances at avoiding prison after they release. 

Without the work of volunteers like Boyd and her husband, it is likely that hundreds of former inmates would be more likely to return to prison later.

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3400 Martin Luther King Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73111-4298


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PO Box 11400
Oklahoma City, OK  73136-0400


Phone: (405) 425-2500
Fax: (405) 425-2578


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