PREPARING PRISONERS FOR REENTRY
As release day approaches, the problems awaiting prisoners on the other side of the gate can be overwhelming. For years, they’ve been told when to eat, what to wear, and where to go. Now suddenly they will have to make decisions on their own.
Thanks to caring volunteers, prisoners are learning how to be leaders in their communities and walking out the prison gates as prepared as possible for the challenges that lie ahead.
SUPPORTING THE FORMERLY INCARCERATED
When men and women are released from prison, they face immediate challenges—finding a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, transportation, medical care, and job opportunities. To address these needs, Prison Fellowship partners with faith-based organizations and local service agencies that can provide formerly incarcerated people with transitional housing and assistance getting on a path to success.
But adjusting to life on the outside doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and ongoing support. Healing and restoration are able to flourish most among a strong body of believers that’s committed to showing Christ’s love. Prison Fellowship trains and equips hundreds of bridge churches around the country to envelope former prisoners in a community of support as they make their transition. We also partner with other organizations to strengthen local support networks for the formerly incarcerated so they are encouraged along their journey.
Illegal drug use left Larry a shell of a man. He knew he needed to change, but he felt powerless.
In prison, Larry surrendered to Jesus. He enrolled in Prison Fellowship’s spiritual development and life-skills classes where he learned how to study and apply biblical truths, create resumes and business plans, and improve his leadership skills.
After Larry’s release from prison, Prison Fellowship volunteers connected him with a supportive church and Christian reentry center. A week after release, Larry had a job interview at a scrap yard. The owner saw something special in him and offered him the job. Using the skills he learned behind bars, Larry excelled. Within 90 days, he received five raises and was promoted to yard foreman. As foreman, he’s gotten to hire 19 other former prisoners.
Larry continues to meet weekly with his Prison Fellowship mentor, who’s been with him through it all. Larry attributes his success to God’s grace, his reentry preparation, a supportive church and reentry center, and a business owner who was willing to give him a chance.
Once a sentence is paid in full, we believe everyone deserves a second chance to contribute to their community. But there is a second prison in our nation; prisoners pay their debt to society, yet their punishment continues as they face legal, social, and many other kids of barriers that inhibit their growth and potential.
Finding employment is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Many former prisoners don’t experience the success that Larry did, simply because they aren’t given the chance to prove themselves a changed man or woman.
The Second Prison Project, a program of Prison Fellowship, is working to expose the second prison in America and unlock the full potential of men and women with a criminal record.