In their opinion piece this week for "The Hill," Timothy Head and Craig DeRoche demonstrate how faith-based organizations are valuable in curbing recidivism in America.
Reminding us of Jesus Christ's words, "I was in prison and you came to visit me … Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:36-40), Head and DeRoche define the relationship between the faith community and America's incarcerated.
"Judeo-Christian values balance personal responsibility with forgiveness and mercy," they write. "And the words of Christ, taken as a mandate for action, drive the faith community to engage."
When faith groups go into jails and prisons to minister to the incarcerated, they are able to provide not just religious help but also crucial services. Their presence also means that there is little to no cost to American taxpayers.
The Prison Fellowship Academy™ is one such program.
"The long-term, intensive, faith-based program holistically addresses the roots of criminal behavior," explains DeRoche. Prisoners who complete the program see their chances of being arrested again after release cut in half. Sixty percent of Academy graduates have an even smaller chance of being incarcerated again.
Faith-based organizations offer training in values, vocations, and skills. They have been "proven to be some of the most effective methods of stopping the revolving door of jails and prisons."
Allowing faith groups to provide such programs will enable prisoners to thrive in society as productive and law-abiding community members.