MUSCATINE, Iowa — The Mighty X Women are changing the lives of women both inside and outside of jail.

For the past seven weeks, the Mighty X Women of Muscatine have been working with inmates at the Muscatine County Jail.

Ronda Busch, executive director of the group, said she and another volunteer, Toni Chandler, a licensed minister involved in the program, typically spend about three hours a day at the jail talking to about two-thirds of the women inmates.

"We just talk to the women," Busch said. "We pray with them and ask about their families as well as try and help their families through this time."

Mighty X Women follow the teachings of the Mighty X Men ministry, founded by Pastor Jonathan Byrd of Rockford, Ill., an ex-offender himself.

The group is made up of both non-offenders and former offenders.

The classes taught by the organizations help offenders and their families find work, housing and a way to get on the path to a better life. The inmates are not Mighty X Women yet. Busch said that she is connecting with them before they are released so they can join when they get out.

Busch and the local chapter of the organization — about a year old this month — have, until seven weeks ago, worked with only ex-offenders outside of the jail. Busch said she worked with Jail Administrator Dean Naylor to set up visits with the inmates.

"We knew we wanted to come and talk to these women," Busch said.

For the first six months, Busch will meet with inmates through a video system. After the six months is up, Busch said she'll be able to sit down and talk to the inmates face-to-face.

"Dean (Naylor) has been very helpful," Busch said. "The entire staff have been wonderfully helpful and understanding."

Chandler said they had to build up the trust of the inmates.

"What excites me the most is the broken women that have changed because of our work with them," Chandler said.

When the first inmate picked up the phone, Busch and Chandler talked to her about her family and gave her positive reinforcement about her trial. "You are the rock we have back there," Busch said to her.

After their 10-minute conversation ended, Busch said the woman told them that she was excited to write a testimonial for the Mighty X Women website.

The inmate is even helping other inmates reach out to the X Women.

"She organized everything back there (in the jail)," Busch said. "The other inmates go to her for help with the program.

"We're so happy for her and all the progress she's made."

Information from: Muscatine Journal, http://www.muscatinejournal.com