A new report from the Minnesota Department of Corrections shows just how successful Prison Fellowship’s InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) has been in reducing recidivism among former inmates in that state.
The study looks at 732 offenders released between 2003 and 2009. After following these ex-prisoners for three years, the study found that participation in the program decreased the risk of reoffending between 26 and 40 percent. Because IFI does not incur any additional costs to the state, the program is cost-effective, and even has the residual effect or reducing re-incarceration and victimization costs.
Much of the credit to the program is given to the “continuum of mentoring support” IFI members receive both during their time behind bars and after their release. The report summary highlights the work of these volunteers, as well as the curriculum :
There are likely several reasons why InnerChange reduces recidivism. While traditional or mainstream Christian doctrine promotes a pro-social, crime-free lifestyle, InnerChange has attempted to mitigate the recidivism risk of those who participate by also focusing on issues such as education, criminal thinking, and chemical dependency. Similar to therapeutic communities, which have been found to be effective in reducing recidivism, InnerChange participants live in a separate housing unit. Further, InnerChange participants receive a continuum of care that connects the delivery of programming in the institution to that provided in the community. Lastly, InnerChange expands offender social support networks by providing them with mentors and connecting them with faith communities after their release from prison.
A Minnesota Public Radio report on the study findings features commentary by a number people familiar with the IFI program, including Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske.