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Local woman cheers inmates for Christmas

While many people are busy making plans to spend Christmas with their families, local woman Jocelynn James Edmonds instead plans to spend the holiday at the Franklin County Detention Center, as she has for the past several years.

Nine years ago she spent Christmas in jail – but not by choice.

Edmonds fell into addiction after being prescribed pain medication over the course of several surgeries. As a result, she became wanted for crimes related to maintaining the addiction. After seeing herself on Alabama’s Most Wanted list, she made the decision to turn herself in and seek help.

“I have been free from addiction since Nov. 5, 2012,” Edmonds said. “After being incarcerated and in rehab for a year, I surrendered my life to God. When I came home, I knew my calling was to help others like me.

“I gained the trust of the local judge and district attorney, and I am in the process of opening The Place of Grace Center to further my passion to help people become rehabilitated and reclaim their lives.”

Since 2013 Edmonds has helped 916 women and 161 men get into rehab facilities and work to get their lives back.

Edmonds said she sees God working to mend the lives of women broken by addiction. She stays in contact with them, loving them through the process, as she says Jesus would do, showing the compassion and support they need along the way.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, Edmonds said she still has much to be grateful for and that 2020 has been nothing short of a wonderful year for her.

In September she married Greg Edmonds, who is also in recovery. “He supports me in all God allows me to do,” she said. “I want the community to understand that we need to show love as Jesus did. I was once an inmate, and now God is using me to help others, and He will do the same for them if they allow it.”

Edmonds said she is grateful Franklin County jail administrator Theresa Qualls is allowing her to continue with her Christmas in jail outreach despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. Her husband will be working alongside Daniel Green, who has been going for three years, and Rick Rowen, who has gone for one year, to help the men, while she continues her work with the women.

Jocelynn and Greg Edmonds will both be sharing what God has done for them and how they have been in the same position as those incarcerated. They’ll hand out donations, talk with the inmates and praise God together.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to join my wife in this jail outreach on such a special day,” Greg Edmonds said. “Our experiences in recovery drew us together through Christ, and I am glad to have the opportunity to work to help others.”

This year was a big one for Jocelynn Edmonds for another reason, too. Shortly before her marriage, Edmonds donated a kidney to save the life of Terrell Potter, a retired Phil Campbell police officer who arrested her more than once while she was battling an opioid addiction and dealing with related charges.

To aid her Christmas Day efforts, for the past three years, the Community Church of Hackleburg – along with many others in the area – has provided needed items for Edmonds to take to those incarcerated. She said it can be hard for inmates to buy all the items they need. Each year, she posts online in an effort to get 50 each of socks, towels, devotionals, shampoo, conditioner, bath towels, washcloths and stamped envelopes.

Borden Dental always donates toothpaste and toothbrushes.

This year, Edmonds said she received enough donations for more than 50 recipients.

“We are thankful and blessed to spend Christmas in the Franklin County Jail and to have the opportunity to show the love of Christ,” she said, “and do what we can to help others who are in the same place we once were.”

Edmonds’ The Place of Grace has monthly committed donors but no building yet, so for the time being, she said she is continuing to help find people placement in faith-based rehab facilities and provide support along the way.

Those interested in more information about The Place of Grace Center may call 256-668-5390 or visit the website placeofgracecenter.com.

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