Prison Minister and author Marty Angelo answers a Hollywood reporter's tough questions, including: "Can Paris Hilton make it in her 'New Beginning' outside of jail?"
Hollywood, CA (PRWEB) July 5, 2007 - In a recent interview with Hollywood newspaper reporter Harold Alberts, prison minister and author Marty Angelo fielded a variety of questions; from socialite Paris Hilton's recent Los Angeles County jail incarceration and her interview with CNN's talk show host, Larry King to the reasons for California's prison problems.
Angelo reached out to Paris Hilton during the turmoil created when L.A. County Judge Michael Sauer ordered Hilton back to jail after being released on house arrest by L.A. County Sheriff Leroy D. Bacca. Angelo petitioned Judge Sauer asking him 'not ' to send the hotel heiress back to jail but instead have Angelo serve out her sentence so Hilton could receive proper psychological, physical, and spiritual treatment elsewhere. The judge ignored Angelo's petition and ordered Hilton back to jail to serve out her full sentence.
When asked why he offered to serve Hilton's jail sentence whom he never even met, Angelo responded by saying, "It started when I first sent Miss Hilton a copy of my book, 'Once Life Matters: A New Beginning' after she had her first scrape with the law. I knew back then she needed help."
Angelo felt Hilton did have very special needs that Sheriff Bacca ultimately brought to Judge Sauer's attention. When Angelo saw her handcuffed in the back of a patrol car during her drive back to the L.A. County courthouse, he felt the time had come for him to reach out even further to this confused young woman. It was obvious she had some real issues and Angelo knew county jail would not really be able to help her.
"All one has to do is study the recidivism rate for inmates coming out of our California state prison system." Angelo stated, "The Los Angeles county jail system is even worse!"
In a recent study conducted by University of California at Irvine found two-thirds of California's offenders return to prison within three years, however more than 50% of those offenders are sent back for parole violations alone, a rate considerably higher than in other large states.
"Those statistics were based on 2002 figures," Angelo continues. "That was five years ago and it is even worse today. Our California prison system does not rehabilitate, yet alone regenerate, which it what inmates really need. It is so bad that even our substance abuse in-prison treatment programs were recently labeled a total failure and complete waste of money."
The state overseer of the corrections system says the $1 billion spent since 1989 on programs has failed to lessen the recidivism rate.
One study of the two largest in-prison programs found that recidivism rates for inmates who participated were actually a bit 'higher' than those of a group of convicts who did not receive treatment, Inspector General Matt Cate said. He said corrections officials were told in more than 20 reports since 1997 that the programs were failing but did nothing to fix them, choosing instead to expand them and fund more studies of their results.
Angelo feels that society 'thinks' prisons and jails change criminals. "Some times they do, however statistics prove the majority of times they don't," Angelo continues, "All incarceration really does is 'warehouse' people. Society sits back and does not realize most prison inmates will one day be back on the streets with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and will quickly slip back to their old ways and enter the legal system once again.
"I felt that sending Paris Hilton back to jail would be 'too easy.' If the state prison system is not working, what makes society think the county jail system is any better? It has no rehabilitative services at all to offer inmates . Therefore, society has to only be content with its very expensive 'pound of flesh.'"
When Paris Hilton answered Larry King's questions, she stated she learned while incarcerated that the typical woman released from L.A. County jail returns there at least '7.3 more times because they have nowhere to live.'
"Miss Hilton needs to take heed to her own remarks," Angelo continued. "It is not just because the women do not have a place to live upon release. Many female 'and' male ex-prisoners willingly go back into a life of substance abuse, partying, and breaking the law.
"One day after Hilton told Larry King that she 'never' used drugs, TheSmokingGun.com website posted various
video clips of her proving otherwise.
"Paris Hilton would have learned in 'a proper treatment center' that the first hurdle in recovery is to overcome 'denial.' This is basically the 'first step' in 'a new beginning.'
"We only see each other in life's little 'snapshots.' God is the only one who really knows and sees what goes on in between each one. Paris Hilton has her whole life ahead of her and certainly has the ability, like all of us, to repeatedly make mistakes and to learn from them or not learn from them.
"I say that not to predict bad things will or should happen to Miss Hilton however, realistically speaking we, as humans, have a tendency to go back to the very same wrong things that gets us in trouble in the first place. We call this our "human nature." It is like a dog returning to eat its own vomit. The Bible calls it 'sin.'
"Humans love to 'sin.' There is definite pleasure in it. Just ask any Hollywood celebrity or anyone else for that matter who thinks sexing, drinking, and drugging is a good time. You know what? They 'are' fun, however the pleasure is only for a season. Then come the consequences, and rest assured they eventually do come. All I have to do is look back at my life 26 years ago. No one is immune from the consequences from 'a life out of control.' If one does not change then it is either jail, hospitalization, or death. There is no 'ifs, ands, or buts.'"
"Unfortunately," Angelo continued, "We changed the definition of 'sin' back in the '60s Woodstock Generation to: 'Doing your own thing' and 'If it feels good, do it" Those secular expressions have stuck within society ever since.
When asked if Angelo felt drunkenness, fornication, and using illegal drugs are 'sins' he responded with a huge, "YES!"
Angelo continued, "By removing, the concept of 'sin' and replacing it with any other word negates the need to 'repent' therefore, dismissing altogether our basic principle of knowing God.
"God wants us to turn from sinning (repent: - Godly sorrow.) and humbly come to Him for forgiveness. This is the simple Gospel. Humans, with our tremendous wealth of knowledge and 'know how' ignorantly try every other way but God's easy way.
"We become our own gods, when we move away from God's plan. This is where secular programs step in and try to 'rehabilitate' us. Man does not need to be rehabilitated and brought back to our same old selves... rather we need to be regenerated, meaning… given 'a new beginning.' This is God's way. We no longer need to 'white knuckle' it through life.
"It may take numerous trips to the 'big house' for one to finally listen to God and 'repent' or 'turn' and run in the opposite direction of our sinful nature to receive His forgiving grace, mercy, and love. The Bible states that the angels rejoice in heaven when someone repents. God is actually happy when we realize our wrongs and misgivings, our missing the mark, our 'sin.' It is at this time He moves in a mighty way and proves He is God.
"Prisons and jails are where God does bring us to 'take care of business' for our rebellious and sinful lifestyles. Many inmates just do not grasp this the first time down. They think they can go back out into society and continue to "do their own thing," while turning around and winding up right back in prison within just a few short days or months of release. The prison system does not work unless you are willing to allow God to change you.
"There is no other way to look at this prison overcrowding situation we have in this country. The inmates who do understand why God brought them into their 'captivity' know firsthand the principle I am explaining. They usually are the ones who never return. They repent (remember, this is where the word 'penitentiary' comes from), receive God's forgiveness and mercy, find their real purpose in life, and go back into society as a new creature in Christ. This is the real 'new beginning' prisoners and substance abusers are searching for. Until it happens the 'revolving prison door' endlessly continues.
"Prison can be, should be, and 'is' a real blessing in disguise if one gets what God has for you while there. An inmate has to be 'transformed' by the renewing of their minds through the written Word of God and allow the Holy Ghost power of God to change their old sinful natures.
"We are in a spiritual battle and we believers need to remember, 'God has already won the fight'' two thousands years ago. We need to allow Him to change us into His image, making us into a new creation and giving us a fresh start...'a new beginning!' This is God's plan for prisoners and non-prisoners alike.
"I am praying Paris Hilton's recent brush with misdemeanor law and incarceration will truly be a learning and life changing experience for her and 'a new beginning' she told Larry King she feels God has given her. I hope she allows it to take root and she will seriously change from this, her first 'go-round' with the legal system. It can either get joyfully better or depressingly worse. The choice is hers. However, her obvious 'denial' is not helpful.
"The odds are 'not' in Hilton's favor if she does not stay repentive and returns to her old party lifestyle. She does not need to 'just hire a limo driver' so she can continue to carry on with her old habits.
"I pray for her strength to 'stay the course' to allow God the time to really change her from the inside so the next 'snapshot' we see of Paris Hilton is not another mug shot.
"If she feels God has given her 'a new beginning' then I say, 'Welcome aboard, young lady, the 'real party' has just begun! It gets better and better each and everyday."
Much like many famed celebrities, Angelo lived life in the fast lane as he climbed the ladder of success in the music industry, tempted by the glamorous pleasure that stardom brings. As he looks back with the wisdom of hindsight in "Once Life Matters: A New Beginning," Angelo now sees his past drug usage and partying as a meager attempt to fill the void in his life created by not having a personal relationship with God.
The turning point in Angelo's own life came when he hit rock bottom, facing a long prison sentence for cocaine possession. It was then that he realized how truly lost he had become and placed his faith and trust in God by accepting Jesus Christ into his life as Lord and Savior. From that point on, Angelo's life was transformed, and through "Once Life Matters: A New Beginning," he seeks to tell others that if God can change him, He has the power to change anyone.
Paris Hilton quoted directly from one of the book's pages (#178) during her Larry King interview when she used Angelo's 'prison motto' advice: "Don't serve the time, let the time serve you." Hilton stated, "I did that and that really helped."
interview transcript here.
Angelo received a thank you note from Hilton after she was released from jail.
Marty Angelo resides in southern California. Before his conversion to Christianity, Angelo worked in the entertainment business for 15 years. He is currently a full-time prison minister.
"Once Life Matters: A New Beginning" (ISBN 0961895446, Impact Publishing, 2006) can be purchased through the online bookstore,
www.amazon.com. All proceeds go to offset the cost to ship free books to prisons, jails, and rehabs. Since January 2006, over 40,000 copies of the book have been donated to hundreds of institutions.
Please see website to read some of the hundreds of letters received each month from inmates and rehab clients who are inspired after reading
"Once Life Matters: A New Beginning."