We are sad to report a loss in the Prison Society "family" -- that of Jerry L. Mims, who was named our Prisoner of the Year at our 220th Annual Meeting. Jerry gave his acceptance speech via video, and greatly touched many in the audience with his words about giving to others and making a difference. The speech in its entirety can be read in the current issue of Graterfriends, but below are excerpts from the remarks made by PPS board member Joan Porter, a great friend of Jerry's and an Official Visitor at Graterford.
I’m deeply honored to announce Jerry L. Mims as the Pennsylvania Prison Society’s 2007 Inmate of the Year. I wish I had my husband’s ability to mimic people’s walks so that I could show you how Jerry walks because his walk with his accompanying smile captures his personality. His walk says, “Here I am world. I’ve come to fix your problems.”
Jerry has been incarcerated for 24 years and has accomplished more in those years than many people on the outside accomplish in a lifetime. He holds three undergraduate degrees and an associates degree—all of which he earned in prison. For 20 years he’s served as chairman of the Community Service Committee and as executive secretary and program developer of LIFERS, Inc. One of Jerry’s passions is helping other prisoners—especially young ones—prepare themselves for release.
Jerry was instrumental in forming Graterford’s “End Violence Project,” which is the longest continuouslyrunning DOC program. He’s secretary for the Lifers Public Safety Initiatives and is a co-author of the published article “Ending the Culture of Street Crime.” Jerry served as Worship Leader for five years at the Protestant Church. He continues to work with faith-based organizations throughout the Delaware Valley, encouraging them to welcome transformed prisoners back into the community so they will have full access to continued worship.
Other programs or initiatives Jerry helped develop include: The Master’s Children, The PhiladelphiaChristian Love Center, The Men’s Resource Center Support Group, Lifers Anti-Crime Summit and Youth at Risk Project, and The Drug Awareness Program.
The list of accomplishments is indeed impressive, and we will miss Jerry's tenacity. Pictured here are a group of his supporters, who accepted the award on his behalf.