Christmas spirit comes to prison
Lebanon inmates perform play
BY JANICE MORSE
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LEBANON In beautiful three-part harmony, the yuletide carol Noel filled the air in the midst of a Christmas play.
But the production was being performed inside prison walls and the trio singing it consisted of inmates.
See that guy there, the tall one? He's in for murder, whispered Anthony Brigano, warden of Warren Correctional Institution. He's doing more time than just about anybody in here, but just listen to him so talented, and one of the best inmates I've ever had.
Mr. Brigano, his staff and the inmates involved in Monday's annual Christmas play bear witness: The spirit of Christmas is powerful enough to penetrate prison walls.
We get a blessing out of doing this, said Dennis Isham, an inmate who directed Monday's Christmas play. This helps us get the Lord's word out. For some of the staff and a lot of the inmates, this play is the only church service they're going to go to all year so it's our only chance to reach them.
About two dozen staff members attended a performance, and nearly 170 of the prison's 1,400 inmates asked for passes to attend.
The play, A Life Trans formed,could easily be the life story of many prisoners. Several of the actors said they felt it mirrored their lives.
The play tells the story of a man who comes to prison, feeling bitter about landing there and he's tempted by prisoners who know how to get dope and booze. But then another inmate tells him about the prison chapel. At first, he resists. Then he shows up at a prison church service that changes his life.
Corny as that might sound, it's true, Mr. Isham said. I was in more of a prison on the outside than I am in here.
Prison Chaplain Bernie Van Scoter said Mr. Isham, who is serving time for two robbery convictions, has truly embraced the Lord. Talk about a life transformed, the Rev. Mr. Van Scoter said. The jailhouse religious those who come to prison and "get religion' are what most people think about. But there are very sincere Christians here.
The Christmas plays are a highlight for the believers, the minister said.
During the time I've been here, (the plays) have really touched my life, said inmate Michael Gilmore.
Another prisoner, Joseph Whitsell, said being involved with the play illustrated another important lesson for him.
I'm kind of shy, so when I heard about the play, I said I just wanted a small part, he said. But (Mr. Isham) told me, "There are no small parts,' and that's the way it is with God.
Rules authority warns Senate against dealmaking
Book full of famous mugs in Cincinnati
Adults get kick out of soccer
Butler highway section opens
Chamber honors 4 city standouts
Christmas spirit comes to prison
Cinergy Field concession vendors granted Christmas wishes
Clinton stays busy, public
Doggie bags his specialty
Downtown site cost tops Hamilton jail proposals
Flynt to release report on affairs of Washington officials
Ford, Carter urge censure by Senate
GOP group asks for censure
Here come the ice, snow
Hiring of Democrats raises eyebrows in N. Ky. GOP
Hope Taft will focus on youths, abuse prevention programs
Insurance problems on agenda
K9 officers to get overtime pay
Lakota West grieves for 16-year-old
Lebanon goals set in motion
Local residents join anti-execution vigil
Man accused of tampering with sewer district records
Mason doing $20M road work
Norwood officer suspended for 30 days, no pay
Nurse's tampering case a first here
School on fast-forward
Special prosecutor winds up investigation of Chiquita case
Stabbing suspect arrested
Taft wants lottery to take different spin
Tobacco company to help fund airport smoking rooms
Tristate hospitals edgy about have limited supplies
Web site tracks Santa
Wilder to get 20-screen theater
Woman receives teen's kidney
Furby perfect hero for our times