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Inmate let out of jail to seek spiritual help

Staff writer

Bond for a Marion man with four active felony cases and many convictions under his belt was modified April 12 to allow him to go to a halfway house in Alton.

During a status conference, Magistrate Judge Laura Viar changed bond for Randy R. Carlson, 32, to his own recognizance so he could be taken to Nation Builders Ministries in Alton.

He was taken there Thursday after spending five weeks in jail.

In three separate cases filed so far this year against Carlson in Marion County, he is charged with burglary, criminal damage to property, theft, making a criminal threat, and three misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order.

He was charged March 28 in Harvey County with possession of stolen property, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

Viar ordered that Carlson would not be released from jail until he could be transported to the program by Carl Helm, pastor of Marion Christian Church.

As a condition of his bond, he must remain an active participant of the program, follow all rules, and not be anywhere other than places the Nation Builders program permits.

If he stops participating in the program or does not remain in areas he is permitted to be, he is to be returned to jail.

Carlson is under court orders to have no contact with witnesses or victims in the criminal cases filed against him. Viar noted in her ruling that recovery programs often require participants to contact victims, but contacting them was prohibited.

“If (he) believes such contact is necessary and appropriate, he shall file a motion requesting permission from the court,” Viar wrote.

Martin Thompson, director of Nation Builders Ministries, said the faith-based, live-in program was designed for men who struggle with addiction or other issues that control their lives.

Thompson described the program as “a life set apart from the world for the guys to get on the path to life.”

The program includes Christian discipleship, work experience, and separation from people and situations that led the participant to become, and remain, addicted.

Services are provided at no cost.

“Most guys who come through the program don’t pay,” Thompson said. “They’ve already burned every bridge.”

Nation Builders opened two years ago in the former home of a different faith-based program, Teen Challenge. It was liquidated in 2021.

Thompson was a participant in Teen Challenge.

“I got a new chance to live a new life, and I want to pay that forward,” he said. “We opened the program a couple years ago.”

He prefers a referral to the program by a minister or someone else who would be involved in the participant’s life.

Previous charges filed in Marion County against Carlson include intimidation of a witness or victim to prevent testimony; two counts of domestic battery; endangering a child; possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and hallucinogenic drugs; attempted burglary; and criminal use of a financial card.

Last modified April 24, 2024

 

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