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UPCOMING EVENTS


 

November 12, 2017 is
Orphan Sunday

 

Community Clergy Training
from the VA -
Pastoral care for rural
veterans and families.
Various locations/dates.

 

 

 

 

 

GET CONNECTED


Prison/Jails

 

"Three things will help keep an inmate from coming back to prison: The first is some type of spiritual awakening while in prison; the second is support by their family during and after incarceration; and the third is a skill to find a job on the outside after release." --James Rowland, past Director, California Department of Corrections

 

The United States has more prisoners than any other country. 

Over 2 million are in prison

2.7 million children have incarcerated parents

650,000 inmates are released from prison every year


More women are being incarcerated than ever before, often for non-violent crimes. When released, they lack skills to change the lifestyle that landed them in prison in the first place. This 2-part series from PE News looks at the unique needs of female offenders, what several AG ministries are doing to help, and how you and your congregation can get involved.  Read "More Women Behind Bars" and "Help on the Outside."


Jesus said, "I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Matthew 25:36 New International version (NIV)

U.S. Missions serves prisoners and their families through the Chaplaincy Ministries department.  Correctional facility chaplains and trained volunteers have introduced many men, women, and juveniles to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. A number of chaplains are available to speak to your church, or to help train interested volunteers. Get your church involved by requesting the Guide to Prison Ministries and other resources available through the Correctional Chaplaincy department. 

With the need being so great, collaboration with other ministry programs can help churches accomplish more than they could do alone. Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) serves and equips the Church to fulfill the Great Commission among prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Learn more about PFM at www.prisonfellowship.org. PFM works to influence federal, state, and local policy toward equipping prisoners for successful lives following incarceration, and reducing recidivism. Their restorative justice programs also work to help victims achieve closure.

 

 

Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Program

Children with an incarcerated parent suffer at Christmas, not just from financial circumstances but from feeling abandoned. Through Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program, parents in prison sign their children up to receive a gift. Sponsoring churches then take names of children in their area, purchase the gifts, and distribute them at a Christmas party for the children.  Accompanied by a personal card signed by the parent, these gifts help to restore broken relationships. Read more about the issues facing children of prisoners, here.

Read this story from a prisoner's daughter about the impact of an Angel Tree gift on her life.

Register today to become an Angel Tree church coordinator so that your church can sponsor gifts to children on behalf of their incarcerated parents.  Priority for your church is given to children from your geographical area, so don't stop with the gift program!  After the initial contact at Christmas, Angel Tree connects churches with children and families for mentoring and follow-up, including the opportunity to sponsor children for a week at partnering Christian camps. Visit the PF/Angel Tree website for year-round ideas!

It Starts with a Gift”  Video

 


FAQ's and Statistics

Correctional statistics from the Bureau of Justice - Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool allows custom tables of state and federal numbers.

New 2016 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center - "A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families, and Communities" - What the numbers say and recommendations of what to do about them.

Correctional statistics by state from the U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Corrections

Reentry information from The Federal Interagency Reentry Council 

Elderly and in prison - The number of elderly inmates is rising, according to this report by the Human Rights Watch, and prisons are not equipped to deal with it.

Q & A by topic, National Criminal Justice Reference Service

The Council of State Governments Justice Center - Checklists, fact sheets, recent articles about current events and developments.

FAQ's and answers: Downloadable from Prison Fellowship

Children of Incarcerated Parents: Information from the Child Welfare Information Gateway of the Department of Health & Human Services

National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated: Fact sheets, program directory, library


 

Resources and Volunteer Training for Churches

U.S. Missions Chaplaincy: Guide to Prison Ministries

Find out how to become a "Bridge Church" to welcome prisoners with Christian fellowship, help finding a job, and other important services after release.

Resources for prison ministry and re-entry/rehabilitation from ARM Prison Outreach: Portable baptistries, communion supplies, Bibles, and Bible study courses.

"Outrageous Justice" from Prison Fellowship - small group study to awaken Christians to the need for justice that restores.

KAIROS: Connecting caring Christian volunteers with prisoners for a weekend of discipleship or with families of prisoners for a weekend of support and encouragement.

Has your church considered offering transitional housing for re-entry?  You'll want to read this article first. 

Literacy Programs for Prisoners: Many prisoners are functionally illiterate, making it difficult to study the Bible or get a GED or a job and avoid returning to the lifestyle that led them to prison. Visit the Prison Fellowship website to learn about being trained as a literacy volunteer--the perfect opportunity for retired teachers or people who love reading to make a real difference!

Restorative Justice Ministries Network: Informing and equipping churches, businesses, and communities for prison ministry and re-entry support.

National Fatherhood Initiative: Equipping fathers for quality involvement with their children, beginning while they are incarcerated and continuing into re-entry through programs such as "InsideOut Dad"

Coalition of Prison Evangelists (COPE): Fellowship and training for churches, organizations, and individuals involved in prison ministry.

Beauty for Ashes: Inmate and re-entry ministry; volunteer opportunities and training

Daughters of Destiny: Volunteers discipling incarcerated women and preparing them for re-entry, with continued mentorship upon release

Prisoner Reentry Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations from the U.S. Department of Labor  

Crowded prisons and budget cuts are causing many states to explore creative ways to release non-violent offenders sooner and successfully re-integrate them into society. Churches and other ministries can help these former prisoners get jobs, deal with addiction problems, and successfully navigate possible pitfalls leading to recidivism.  Check out our resources for helping those with alcohol and drug problems, the poor, and teens aging out of foster care. Does your church or group have ministry in place for helping these at-risk populations avoid becoming offenders or repeat offenders?  Send us your testimonies to share. 

 

Speakers

Manuel Cordero, senior director, Assemblies of God Chaplaincy Ministries

Prison Fellowship Ministries staff

Joe Fauss, Chaplaincy Ministries, Calvary Commission prison ministries (See recent article about this ministry.)

Jerrod Ramirez, Assemblies of God correctional chaplain

 


Other Helpful Resources

Ministries to Children of Prisoners/Resources for Children and Families

What happens to the babies born to women who are incarcerated during their pregnancy? Programs that keep women and their babies together in prison nurseries help provide the bonding experience and give women a reason to turn their lives around when released. Read about successful programs here.

"Educators: Key Players in the Lives of Prisoners' Kids" - For children with an incarcerated parent, a little understanding and flexibility from a teacher can be a huge encouragement.

The National Incarceration Association - resourcing families of the incarcerated and working to achieve restorative solutions to the problems of mass incarceration.

The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated - Fact sheets, statistics, links to resources and support organizations to assist those wanting to help. 

From the National Institute of Corrections in collaboration with the Urban Institute - "Toolkit for Developing Family-Focused Jail Programs"  - family contact is a big factor in preventing recidivism. Learn ways to help that happen.

"How Parental Incarceration Affects A Child's Education" - Thoughtful research piece from The Atlantic for teachers or for those wanting to volunteer in local schools, about the effect of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's) experienced by children of the incarcerated on their performance and socialization at school. 

The Women's Storybook Project creates recordings of incarcerated moms reading to their children, and then delivers the recording and the book to the child. You can get involved (Texas) or get inspired to create something similar in your area.

Camp David of the Ozarks: Summer camping experience and mentoring

Service Network for Children of Inmates - Connecting Florida families to the services and support they need.

The popular children's TV show Sesame Street offers a toolkit, "Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration" for parents, educators, and caregivers working with children of incarcerated parents.


Resources for Ministry to Juvenile Offenders

Juveniles account for approximately 2.3 million arrests in a given year.  The last decade has seen landmark court cases limiting the application of life sentences for persons under age 18, but there is much to be done in terms of truly rehabilitating young offenders, especially as budget cuts in many states shift the primary responsibility for juvenile offenders to local and county facilities. (See the Prison Fellowship blog for more on this topic.) From prevention, to education, to Bible study, to follow-up, there are opportunities for individuals and churches to help.

The Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings works to recruit and support quality teachers and engage students with academic excellence even in the juvenile detention setting, to help ensure they reach their full potential and access to opportunities upon release. To read about the "Words Unlocked" poetry contest, click here.

Straight Ahead Ministries - Equipping churches and individuals to disciple juvenile offenders both while they are "in lock-up" and during re-entry.  Books and other resource materials, speakers, and training events address challenges such as transitional living, gang reconciliation, and employment or education.

 

"The best way to reduce incarceration rates is to keep young people from engaging in crime in the first place.  Parents, churches, and communities can work to do this by engaging with youth, encouraging them to pursue their passions, and providing them with opportunities to do so. Most importantly, adults can remind these youth that they have infinite value in the eyes of God, and that he has created them with skills and talents to serve others."

- Prison Fellowship, "Finding Your Identity"



General Information and Re-entry Resources

"What should we call people with a criminal history, and why does it matter?" - "Hello, My Name Is Felon," explores our society's use of terms that define people by their worst mistakes, and suggests ways we can do better.

Educational opportunities can make a big difference in helping former prisoners reenter society and find a job. Educational also helps build a sense of self-worth and productivity even while still incarcerated. Check out the comprehensive overview of online educational options, including financial aid information, at BestColleges.com.

Parole or probation, finding a job, and changes in family dynamics can be as tough for the family as for the reentering offender. Read "Eight Ways Families Can Prepare for Reentry."

The Theology of Work Project has created curriculum to help prepare returning citizens for a job search or interview. Piloted at a Teen Challenge facility, separate studies for men and women address questions such as when to offer information about prior convictions, how to include job skills learned in prison on a resume, or the unpleasant reality of having to accept a less than ideal job in order to reintegrate into the workforce.

Do you believe in second chances? Do you have a friend or relative who can't find a job due to a prior record? You may want to get involved with The Second Prison Project, advocating on behalf of those who have completed their sentences and want to change their lives. Or visit Prison Fellowship's Re-entry Support page for more ways to help transition an inmate back into society through work opportunities and mentorship.

Prison Entrepreneurship Program - Business professionals and mentors collaborate for intensive business training, preparing inmates to run their own businesses upon release.

A concise summary of how successful reintegration benefits society at large, and some good suggestions for how to do it: "How to Help Former inmates Thrive," from the NY Times opinion page.

Arts and activities programming in prisons not only helps build a more positive culture inside the prison walls, but may also help prisoners build confidence and skills for success upon release.  The Prison Arts Coalition serves as a networking community for arts in prison.  Visit their site to find volunteer and job opportunities in arts programming, events highlighting inmate art, and a list of programs by region/state.  For an example of prison arts programming, read "Inside A Maximum Security Prison's Production of 'The Wiz,'" from the HuffPost blog.

The Second Chance Act, passed in 2008, created grant funding opportunities for agencies assisting re-entering prisoners. Visit their website for updates on 2015 reauthorization of the funding as well as a list and map of programs.

Daughters of Destiny - Equipping volunteers to mentor and disciple female inmates while they are incarcerated and upon release.

Do you love animals? Help save shelter dogs from being euthanized while also helping inmates with re-entry skills. Check out "New Leash on Life," which matches shelter dogs with selected inmates who help socialize the dogs. The animals get better chances at being adopted; the inmates improve their own sense of worth and their access to further training upon release as a veterinary assistant or other animal-related job. Volunteer in the Philadelphia area, or contact them for ideas on starting a similar program in your area.  Another organization, Puppies Behind Bars, trains inmates to raise puppies for a career in K9 law enforcement or as an assistance dog for a disabled veteran. Check your state's Department of Corrections website to see if there is a program near you.  (Check out the Kansas program here.)

From a successful career in finance, former Wells Fargo CEO Danny Ludeman has moved to investing in people, training and mentoring re-entering men and women through the Concordance Initiative.

Finding stable employment is a huge challenge of re-entry. For testimonies from a successful job training program, visit the Georgia Works! website.  Another program, Roots of Renewal, renovates blighted properties in New Orleans, providing low-cost housing as well as employment for former inmates.

Many prisoners are incarcerated due to drug offenses or crimes committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Recovery Prison Ministries takes the Celebrate Recovery curriculum inside correctional facilities to give inmates a better chance at success upon release.

 

Articles

 

How could lives and communities be transformed if women transitioning from incarceration back into society, women fleeing violence or trafficking, and others in crisis had a place where their families could live while they rebuild their lives and learn skills? Read this PE News article, "Fulfilling Forever Families," about a ministry that provides just that place.

In this blog post, a former inmate shares what he learned when he was sentenced to ten years in prison for negligent homicide after providing some of the drugs at a college party. Although not a faith-based article, it offers amazing insight into human nature, the addiction epidemic, and why money isn't really the way to happiness.

"Serving the Community and Saving Lives" - Read about an inmate firefighter program that serves the community and builds re-entry skills.

Is prison or jail really the best place for young mothers and pregnant women suffering from addictions and substance abuse disorders?  Read "Massachusetts Mobilizes to Treat Addicted Moms" to learn about an alternative that appears to be succeeding.

As the system brings offenders to justice and helps victims or their families find closure, who cares for the spouse or family of the offender?  "My Husband Raped Two Women, and I Had to Answer for His Crimes" is one woman's story of her journey and how she managed to move on.

What happens when prisoners become elderly and their age-related health problems get increasingly difficult--and expensive--to deal with? See this PE News discussion, "When Aging Out Is No Option."

"The Truth about Mass Incarceration," - Shared by the Prison Fellowship blog, this piece questions the extreme positions of blaming society vs. throw-away-the-key, pointing instead to truly constructive education and re-entry programs that don't excuse the offense, but punish the offender and work toward retribution and restoration.

How strong is the restorative power of forgiveness?  Read "A Mother's Forgiveness," to find out what happens when a mother allows Jesus to open her heart to meeting the murderer of her only son.

Check the Prison Fellowship blog regularly for updates about legislation and current issues pertaining to prisoners, including this insightful article,
"Why Ex-Prisoners Can't Find Work." 

Evidence is starting to show that restorative justice works--but WHY does it work? God's Word holds the keys to restoration and recovery.

PE News: House of Hope, "Reshaping Lives of Ex-Offenders"  -- how one woman's transformation now motivates her to help others.

 

 


Additional Questions and Information

Contact agusmresources@ag.org

 

View additional compassionate ministry topics and resource sharing guidelines, here.

 


 

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