Developing prosocial, Gospel-centered culture in prisons can foster restoration.
Incarcerated men and women often face destructive influences. But when prisoners become part of a prosocial, Gospel-centered culture, life behind bars can look a lot different.
Troy is incarcerated at Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Nebraska. In fall 2019, he joined the Prison Fellowship Academy®, an intensive, voluntary program replacing participants' criminal mindset and behaviors with renewed purpose and life principles. Using targeted curriculum, compassionate coaches, and uplifting community, the Academy leads people like Troy to become good citizens inside and outside of prison.
CREATING PROSOCIAL CONNECTIONS
Troy, who identifies as pagan, appreciates that the Academy is open to people of any faith or no faith at all. The program, while presenting a biblical perspective, creates opportunities for participants of any background to grow and flourish as they practice and develop new values.
In the Academy, Troy has worked hard to make positive changes in his life. He embraces the core values of the program—especially responsibility. He owns his past mistakes and has been faithful in developing his skills. A gifted visual artist, he is creating a business plan to market his artwork once he leaves prison.
Troy has also learned how to be a better father and husband. He found hope to improve relationships with his family, which seemed impossible earlier in his incarceration. Due to poor behavior in the past, Troy lost the privilege of receiving visits or emails from his wife and daughter for several years.
One day he approached John Byrne, his Academy manager, feeling frustrated and lonely for his family. Half-joking, Troy asked John if they couldn't just pray about the situation. John led them in prayer, asking that the prison would reconsider Troy’s request to contact his family.
Troy walked away not knowing what to expect.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
Shortly after Troy left the staff office, he plugged his prison-issued tablet into a power outlet in the dayroom. The screen lit up. Troy saw an email notification—an email from his wife! The prison administration had reconsidered and reversed the ban on his communication with family.
Troy has told many fellow prisoners about the "miracle" God did for him. He graduated from the Academy in January 2021. These days, he continues to have contact with his immediate family and even reconnected with his sister recently.
In Fiscal Year 2020, Prison Fellowship® served Academy participants in 110 correctional facilities across 29 states. Right now, there are more than 3,000 prisoners participating in the Academy program nationwide! Like Troy, these men and women are taking responsibility for their actions and aspiring to change their thinking and behavior. And because of God's grace and the work of Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers, people are experiencing radical transformation.
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