In 1994, Congress passed a crime bill that strengthened penalties for drug offenses and earmarked billions of dollars for new prison construction. Prison populations across the country boomed as a result, with recidivism rates remaining high. Drug offenses became the leading reason for incarceration, but prisons nationwide struggled to provide programming capable of breaking the cycle of incarceration, release, and rearrest.
Searching for employment can be a frustrating and difficult experience even in the best of situations. There is always the challenge to present oneself in the most positive light, and assure the employer that you can be an asset to their business or organization.
In celebration of Prison Fellowship’s 40 years of ministering to prisoners and their families, we will be taking a look back at the early days of the ministry and remembering the people and the stories that have helped to make Prison Fellowship the nation’s largest prison outreach.
In 2000, Dana Bowerman was arrested for her role in a methamphetamine ring in Texas. She was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison—a sentence even the judge overseeing the case admitted was very harsh.
“I needed time to get my head straight,” Bowerman admits, reflecting on a life that had gone from being an honor roll student to a 15-year addiction to methamphetamine at the time of her arrest.
A diverse collection of companies is collaborating with the Obama administration in an attempt to remove hindrances for men and women seeking employment following incarceration.
The Fair Chance Business Pledge calls for employers to endorse hiring practices that provide former prisoners with an opportunity to succeed.
When Merle Haggard passed away last week on his 79th birthday, country music lost one of its best storytellers.
For decades, Haggard built his legacy as a rough-and-tumble country outlaw, telling stories of his own troubled past, which involved repeated stints in both reform schools and, later, in prison.
Rhonda Bear knows the challenges that women who have been incarcerated face as they attempt to reintegrate into society.
A former prisoner herself, Bear was fortunate to have received support and encouragement from Eileen, a volunteer who encouraged her and nurtured her Christian faith while she was still in prison.
Last fall, Prison Fellowship teamed up with singer-songwriter Idalee to create something unique—a music video, shot entirely inside a corrections facility, with a band composed of men from the prison.
"I had the amazing opportunity ... to bring this song, 'Heal,' into prison and perform it with prisoners," Idalee says.
Having retired following 18 years as a corrections officer at several facilities in Michigan, Billy Stewart is once again returning to prison—this time as a volunteer with Prison Fellowship. Denise Harris, Prison Fellowship’s field director for the Detroit area, asks Billy to share his thoughts about his perspective of prisoners as an officer, and what is taking him back behind bars.
John Jennings stood in the courtroom, looking into the eyes of the man who had murdered his son. This man had been his son’s friend, but one night, this “friend” took John’s son into the woods, demanded his money, and shot him.
The Albuquerque Business First journal recently asked its readers a probing question—would you hire someone who had just been released from prison?
Responses were predictably varied, with many respondents answering affirmatively. Those that did say they would hire a former prisoner typically cited the importance of second chances and a need to break the cycle of recidivism.
For Fred, a prisoner serving a 10-year sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren, incarceration is an opportunity to improve himself.
"I knew right off the bat that when I was going away for a long time that I had to do something with myself while I was here," Fred says.
A San Francisco apparel company is seeking to provide women who have spent time behind bars an opportunity to begin new careers in the fashion industry.
Named after the road leading out of the Central California Women's Correctional Facility in Chowchilla, Road Twenty-Two designs and manufactures high-end shirts for men and women.
Imagine being transported 50 years into the future. Things that were once commonplace have disappeared, or have become quaint relics of an earlier time. In their place are new items and technologies that you don’t understand and can’t use. The food people eat and the clothes they wear are different than you remember, and at a much higher cost than before.
On a recent trip to Michigan, I approached a man that I thought was our local Prison Fellowship field director. I hugged him and thanked him for all he was doing.
When I asked how he was, he said, “I’ve been out for three months, and I am an associate pastor!”