Image courtesy hopelifters.com

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

On the fateful day, October 24, 1999, Carol Kent was awakened by a phone call that changed her life forever. Her only child, Jason P. Kent, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Jason was a model citizen, an Annapolis Naval Academy graduate with no prior record.  He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Throughout this difficult time the Kent’s eyes were opened to a world they had no prior knowledge of. The prison system.

Throughout their anguish the Kents discovered how challenging life can be for families of inmates and the needs they have that are demanding to fulfill. The Kents found this population to be one of the most deprived people in society. There are about 2,000 prisons in the United States and over two million inmates, which means there are a lot of family members who are in desperate need of support.

Carol and Gene embraced a painful situation and redeemed it into an advocacy for families of prisoners.

The Kents were guided to start a non-profit organization that addresses the needs of families who have loved ones behind bars in conjunction with other organizations. Carol and her husband Gene had the insight to understand that one organization cannot possibly meet all of the needs families of prison inmates face.  

Speak up for Hope is a non-profit, faith based organization whose vision is to help inmates and their families adjust to what the Kents now deem as “new normal”.

Their vision is to provide hope to inmates and their families through encouragement and resources.

Speak up for Hope provides needed materials for education, electronic gear, greeting cards, and sports equipment for inmates. Education consisting of faith based support, relationship, parenting, money management, and communication skills. Innovative ideas for visiting rooms, such as coloring books and crayons for children, games, and cards. Jump Start Bags for newly released inmates and Boxes of Hope for Women Ministries.

Counseling, mentoring for leading small groups, and workbooks are available for inmates and their families to help them cope with their situation.

Carol Kent shares her family’s life altering story in her book, When I Lay My Isaac Down and has followed up with A New Kind of Normal.

When I Lay My Isaac Down was written during the grieving period of the Kent’s ordeal and A New Kind of Normal was written during the rebound stage of their life. Writing is Carol’s method of processing grief. The purpose of both books is to provide others in similar situations the opportunity to find hope. A New Kind of Normal is filled with stories to help readers make hope-filled choices during times much more challenging than the dream they once had for their future.

Unquenchable is Carol’s most recent book, which she wrote to share with her readers how staying in faith even during rough times can help one to discover purpose, joy and hope.

Image courtesy speakupforhope.org

Carol Kent talks about her new book — Unquenchable, published by Zondervan.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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