How Warden Exchange Is Changing the Way We Think About Prison
Prison Fellowship® research, including studies by the University of Georgia and George Mason University with over 200 corrections experts, shows that wardens hold the key to the moral rehabilitation of the men and women under their charge. As part of the 40 to Fifty campaign to bring restorative change to all 50 states by 2026, Prison Fellowship is reaching these corrections officials through Warden Exchange®, an innovative program that equips them to be transformative leaders.
Program graduates emerge equipped to bring restorative change to their facilities. In addition, Warden Exchange alumni become a part of a professional peer network of dedicated men and women committed to reimagining prison culture. An online-only program caters to wardens who cannot travel to attend the residency program or need to participate individually instead of as a group.
Since 2014, more than 100 wardens and prison officials have graduated from the Warden Exchange Residency program, and 33 have completed the online program. An additional 47 prison leaders will graduate later this year.
A REVOLUTION IN CORRECTIONS
A five-year analysis of the program by researchers at the University of Georgia suggests that Warden Exchange is emerging as the premiere leadership program for wardens in the United States.
"Warden Exchange is the best program that my staff have had the opportunity to participate in," said one state corrections director.
Another graduate added, "It was truly transformational. It really changed my mindset and helped me understand that today's inmates are tomorrow's neighbors."
Leann Bertsch, who directs the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, sits on the Warden Exchange Advisory Panel, and several of her state's wardens have completed the program. The vision plan developed by the first North Dakota wardens to graduate from the Warden Exchange Residency program went on to be adopted at the state level.
A prison in Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, is about to open its first Prison Fellowship Academy® for men. Like Warden Exchange, the Academy is founded on the belief that all people made in the image of God have value and potential. And by His grace, all can be restored as lives change for good. Through the Academy, prisons become safer and more positive, complementing the goal of creating more transformative correctional environments.
ON A MISSION TO TRANSFORM LIVES
Prison Fellowship takes a multipronged approach to transforming lives and protecting communities. Warden Exchange drives toward this goal by developing prison leadership. The Academy develops the potential in men and women who are completing their sentences.
Recently, new Academy sites have opened at men's prisons in California and Oregon and at a women's prison in Georgia. A Spanish-language Academy opened in Texas. Each Academy site uses trained volunteers, proven curricula, and a strong foundation in biblical principles to guide participants through a process of changing their lives for good.
Step by step and month by month, the vision to restore the lives of those affected by incarceration is becoming a reality. As Warden Exchange and the Academy drive change from the top to the bottom, we see prisons become safer and lives changed forever.
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