Over the next year, 650,000 prisoners will be released across the United States. And, unfortunately, their likelihood of returning to prison is high—unless someone steps in to help them out.
Bridge churches around the country are taking on that role. A bridge church, according to Prison Fellowship® Executive Director Mark Hubbell, is a church that’s “passionate about ministering to former prisoners.”
With one terrible choice, Reggie Holmes' world suddenly seemed to have ended. But with the help of Prison Fellowship's® year-long reentry program at James River Correctional Center, Reggie was given the opportunity to make a fresh start.
Peggy Holmes, a disabled single mother, forbade her only child, Reggie, to step off the front porch.
As a successful commodities broker, Jake Hall made a good living. After spending time in prison, though, he couldn’t even get a job washing dishes. He filled out innumerable applications, but when employers saw the checked felony box, they would tell him “no thanks,” or simply throw the application away.
One Sunday morning in November 2008, Edwin Wolff penned in his journal: “One year from now, I want to have a stable job, a vehicle, and be published on some national level.”
Two months earlier—on September 12—Edwin walked out of the Huntsville Unit prison in Huntsville, Texas.
Every forty-five seconds, a prisoner gets released. Walking through the gates to the outside may be easy. But staying out—in a world fraught with responsibilities, decisions, and opportunities for failure—can overwhelm ex-prisoners. Recidivism rates testify to this difficulty.
So what makes staying out such a challenge, and how can ex-prisoners get help to succeed?
Tony Davis never thought he would appear on a panel about employing ex-offenders at an Out4Life Reentry Summit for coalition members, but he’s well-qualified.
On most days Tony, 32, works outdoors with his five-man auto maintenance crew in the sweltering heat of Sulphur, Louisiana.
No rational parent would toss the car keys to a teenager who has never driven before and expect him to drive through traffic without causing casualties. Likewise, pushing prisoners back into our communities without the right preparation and resources and expecting them to stay out of trouble is foolhardy.
Coming home after completing a prison sentence can feel as futile as leaping out of a lions’ den only to land in quicksand.
Each year, 8,000 men and women are released from Minnesota’s prisons to face the daunting challenges of reconnecting with their families and finding employment, housing, transportation, medical care, and education.
To keep the state afloat in treacherous economic seas, Arizona has already dumped significant public programs and services overboard. But even while battered by a $2.6 billion budget deficit, we must not sacrifice public safety to the wind and the waves.