The following post was written by a guest writer. As such, the views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Prison Fellowship® and are not an endorsement.
This post was published in collaboration with National Christian Foundation New York.
A LIVELY EVENING WITH PRISON FELLOWSHIP
By Jeff Smith, President, National Christian Foundation-New York
On May 4th, the National Christian Foundation New York had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by Prison Fellowship® in New York City. Held in the august Harvard Club, the reason for gathering was simple: in New York state there are 54 prisons holding 51,406 prisoners. Forty-two percent of released prisoners are rearrested within three years of leaving prison.
Prison Fellowship has worked nationwide and internationally to help prisoners and to reform prison policy since its founding in 1976 by Charles "Chuck" Colson, himself a former prisoner. In New York, there are 47 prisons with a Prison Fellowship program, and 123 Prison Fellowship volunteers who work tirelessly to accompany prisoners in their journeys.
And with impressive results, too: over 600,000 children of prisoners have been served through Prison Fellowship's program Angel Tree®, and nearly 300 prisoners are currently involved in restorative Prison Fellowship programs.
THE 40 TO 50 CAMPAIGN
But this particular occasion wasn't just to celebrate the past: Prison Fellowship is gearing up for a ten year, 200-million-dollar commitment to put 40 years of critical insights into action across America by their 50th anniversary.
Dubbed their "40 to 50 Campaign," the initiative was passionately introduced at the event by James J. Ackerman, president and CEO of Prison Fellowship, along with several in attendance who've walked with Prison Fellowship for decades.
By the end of the next decade, Prison Fellowship expects to have 38,000 Prison Fellowship Academy participants, with a three-year recidivism rate no greater than 10 percent, as well as a systemic change in state and federal government attitudes towards corrections.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
Prison Fellowship is widely known as the largest Christian organization focused on prison ministry in America. And their work in New York is truly remarkable, both for the scale of the challenge and the sincerity with which they tackle it. As Prison Fellowship seeks to advance the Kingdom by serving these 51,406 people held in New York prisons, here are some ways you can get involved: