Save Our Sons and Jacksonville residents from churches throughout the city joined together Friday night to form a human prayer chain around the 8th Street Juvenile Detention Center.
“It’s about the children of our city and the families of our city,” said supporter Lyn Corley.
Community leaders went inside the detention center Friday to pray with the juvenile inmates as part of Save Our Sons Week, a week aimed at reducing crime — and more specifically black-on-black crime.
“We have to support our young men and get them on the right track to let them know that as adults, we are ready, we are willing, we are empowering them to make wise decisions,” said supporter Sharon Grant.
Bracey Taylor was among those in prayer Friday night; he leads the men’s ministry at St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church. Taylor said he didn’t have a father figure but said his stepfather stepped in and showed him moral values, which inspired him to pay it forward.
“A lot of it’s contributed to young men not knowing how to be fathers, not knowing how to be a positive image because unfortunately they don’t have a positive imagine in their life,” said Taylor.
“When I heard on the radio that they were coming to pray for our young, I knew I wanted to be here and join with them,” said Corley.
Corley taught at the detention facility two decades ago.
“One day I recognized a face of a young man who had killed someone and he seemed like a man with such a great future, so I hope that our city will invest and encourage our young people,” said Corley.
Leaders are hoping their prayers and guidance encourage the young inmates to take the high road and leave their past behind.
“You know, when you're down, when you've made a mistake, it's wonderful for another human being to reach out and to support you. So let's hope that it does wonderful things," Corley said. "I applaud them and anyone that wants to reach out to young people to mentor and guide them. Of course, we don't know all the answers but to me, tonight, prayer is the answer and that's why I'm here.”