It sounds like the setup for a new action film. Early in the morning on August 11, a bus transporting 50 prisoners from a worksite crashed into an overturned semi trailer on a remote Arizona freeway. The bus careened into the road median, the driver seriously hurt.
“Everybody’s seen the movies,” Sgt. Josh Wilhelm of the Arizona Department of Public Safety told the press. “I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m gonna have inmates scatter and we’re gonna have 50 fugitives.”
But the men on the bus must not have read the script.
Instead of disappearing into the Sonoran Desert, the uninjured prisoners opted stick around to tend to the wounded, 20 of whom were fellow prisoners, and even helped direct traffic until help could arrive. When the highway patrol arrived, all the bus passengers were present and accounted for.
“It’s always heartwarming to see anyone jump in when assistance is needed,” Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “I think the programming, the work, the education, all the different opportunities we provide—hopefully it sinks in.”
While the prisoners should be commended for their response to the accident, the fact of the matter is that these men, all of whom are serving sentences of less than five years for non-violent crimes, will be returning to their communities sooner rather than later. Nationwide, 97 percent of all prisoners will eventually released, and will have to adjust to living life outside the prison walls.
This is why reentry training and assistance is crucial to an effective rehabilitation. Prison Fellowship assists the men and women behind bars by offering classes and mentoring for those about to be released, and support and encouragement for those who have returned to society. To learn more about Prison Fellowship’s reentry programs, and how you can be a part of preparing prisoners for their new lives, click here.