“Prisoners are human beings,” Prison Fellowship®’s Craig DeRoche says in his interview with FOX 17 in Michigan. “And they have the same-size hopes and dreams of people on the outside”
On Monday, DeRoche visited the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia County, Michigan. He was there to see firsthand the efforts the facility has made to offer prisoners positive correctional programs. One such program is the Reimagining Prison initiative. Created by the Vera Institute of Criminal Justice and their partners, Reimagining Prison is available in eleven different states.
This week, Reimagining Prison has implemented “Prison Visiting Week” to give those on the outside a chance to engage with the incarcerated. The Vera Institute’s goal is to raise awareness and knowledge of prison life and to promote transparency. By shifting the cultural focus from retribution to rehabilitation, Vera hopes that prisons will soon become a place that better prepares individuals for reentry.
The Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility has what DeRoche believes is a model system for visitation. Visitation can have a powerful, lasting impact on a prisoner’s life. And at Handlon, it’s not just family members who are encouraged to spend time with the prisoners.
“Whether they’re family or friends or positive influences,” DeRoche explains, “teachers, volunteers, [and] pastors [can] help a person with the knowledge they need to live successfully and crime free when they get out of prison.”
Handlon Deputy Warden Melinda Braman agrees. “One of the things that we believe is important for these guys that are incarcerated here is to have that family support … that outside support,” she says. “They feel a sense of hope now at this facility because there’s so many positive things that are going on here.”
To see Craig DeRoche’s interview, visit FOX 17.
For more information on Reimagining Prison, please visit the Vera Institute of Criminal Justice’s website for updates.
To find out how you can be a part of prison rehabilitation, visit our Volunteer page for more information.