Malachi Dads Program Teaches Men to be Strong Role Models for Their Families

“Faith-based programming gives them a sense of humanity. It just helps them to cope better with their peers in here,” says Darrel Vannoy, warden of the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville, MS.

Donald Jackson, warden of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, adds, “A faith-based program is to ensure that everybody is on the same page.”

In Part I of this story on the benefits of faith-based programming, we focused on the Prison Fellowship Program at the East Mississippi facility. In Part II, we take a look at the Malachi Dads Program at the Wilkinson County facility. As the warden at a previous facility, Warden Vannoy was able to see the program in action and worked to bring it to Wilkinson County.

“I saw the effect that it had on the guys who were in Angola (that’s the Louisiana State Penitentiary). I saw the effect that it had on their lives, and it had changed their lives.”

Malachi Dads is a study group of men learning to transform their lives and become better father figures and build a legacy of positive influence.

“It teaches you to be a better man,” says resident participant Christopher Myers. “It teaches you to be a better husband. It teaches you to be a better role model to the people around you.”

Wilkinson Faith Based Programs
Students in the Malachi Dads program.

“You can just see it up and down the halls,” explains Chaplain Dwyane Anthony. “They get respect from just respecting Malachi Dads – they get a lot of respect. Guys come to them for answers and questions and they lead them the right way [and say] ‘Let’s listen, let’s talk and see what the answer is. Let’s try to solve the problem.’”

“You can always have a teachable moment in any kind of situation,” says Malachi Dads Instructor Robert Thompson.

Wilkinson Faith Based Programs
Chaplain Dwayne Anthony speaking to residents.

While the program encourages gentle accountability among participants, it focuses on personal awareness and change.

“What do people from the outside see when they see me?” Robert asks himself. “Not just outer appearance – do they see through my lifestyle the heart that I have? That’s some of the stuff that I’ve gained, and I try to show that with my actions.”

“See a lot of us, we go through things, and we hold back because we are afraid to tell a person what we’ve been through,” says resident Eugene Washington. “And through Malachi Dads, now I have other guys that I interact with that are basically going through the same thing that I’m going through. And one of the most important things I think is for a person to know is that they’re not alone.”

Wilkinson Faith Based Programs
Students in the Malachi Dads program.

Eugene continues, “Well, I would just like to say I thank God for MTC Wilkinson County. I thank them for Warden Vannoy, Warden Stagg, and Warden Arbuthnot, for the chaplain department, and the other officers and captains that are helping out in this prison, showing that they really care. They have this saying that, ‘believe it or not they care – BIONIC. And they really do. And it really makes you feel good to see that people really care about you no matter what situation you’re in.”