Stories

Bridges to Life

www.BridgesToLife.org
Bridges to Life (BTL) is a high-impact restorative justice program delivered to offenders within the prison walls. Over the course of 14 weeks, offenders hear firsthand from victims of crime and explore concepts from responsibility to restitution. More than 30,000 offenders have graduated from the BTL program with the help of over 1,700 volunteers. In addition, the recidivism rate of our graduates is significantly lower than state and national averages. Bridges to Life strengthens families and communities by bringing healing to victims of crime, reducing recidivism among offender graduates of the program, and making our communities safer places to live.

“Over 23 years of incarceration, I have completed classes offered through every department of the prison system. The Bridges to Life program addresses the core issue of what brought me to prison. Never have I been in another class that discussed my crime or my story in a personal way where I had to face myself for who I was and who I am. The core issues must be addressed and the core cleaned out. This is exactly what Bridges to Life does. If we do not get to the core issues of what brought us here, then nothing changes.”
-Graduate


 

Center for Community Transitions, Inc.

www.CenterForCommunityTransitions.org
The Center for Community Transitions’ mission is to strengthen our community by helping people with criminal records and their families find a healthier and more productive way of living. We meet our mission through three main programs:

  • LifeWorks! provides resources and tools to help reentering clients reach their professional and personal goals.
  • Families Doing Time provides emotional support and practical information to families dealing with the effects of having a loved one incarcerated, with a special emphasis on children with incarcerated parents.
  • The Center for Women is a residential facility that helps women successfully transition from prison to their family and community.

I completed the LifeWorks! program at CCT after spending 11 years incarcerated. From day one, I found the program extremely helpful. Not only did I learn great job hunting skills, but it also helped me recall my values and set attainable goals. LifeWorks! connected me with a lot of resources I needed, but even more valuable, I learned there were things I still needed to change, and it made me rethink things and make better decisions. I found permanent employment quickly, and still work at the same restaurant today. In a year’s time I went from line cook to key employee to sous chef. Today I’m engaged and looking forward to a great future.
-Marvin Williams, former LifeWorks! client

 


 

Changed Choices

www.ChangedChoices.org
As followers of Christ, Changed Choices aims to provide mental, emotional, physical and spiritual assistance to highly motivated women both during their incarceration and as they transition back into society, enabling them to make positive changes in their lives and to achieve self-sufficiency. By following clients through the judicial system from the beginning of incarceration through years of reentry, the organization has maintained low recidivism rates. Its core programs include: Comprehensive Approach to Reentry Effectiveness (CARE) and Changing Our Outlook On Life (COOOL), which provides mentoring to young incarcerated women to help them move forward in their change process.

Sheila had a long criminal history and struggled with her HIV positive diagnosis. With the ongoing encouragement and support she received from Changed Choices, she re-imagined what was possible in her life. She is now in her third year of college and is on the Dean’s List. She plans to become a substance abuse counselor and loves being the custodial parent of her 4-year-old daughter.

Frenchetta, a single mother of five boys, came home after serving five years in prison. When her children’s caregiver became homeless, Changed Choices worked with a partner agency to identify an affordable apartment where they could all live together. We connected Frenchetta with an employer willing to hire her despite her record. She has since been promoted, and her family is stable.

 


 

Chosen One Re-Entry Program

www.CORPforFelons.org
Established in 2009 by Carolyn Jones, Chosen One Re-Entry Program (CORP) was formerly known as BLINC Outreach (Building Lives of Inmates in North Carolina).  Ms. Jones’ passion to assist former offenders came about after her son spent 14 years of his life in and out of prison. Without the tools necessary for her son to successfully reintegrate into his community, prison became a revolving door.  He felt helpless and abandoned.  As a result of her desire to help her son and others, Carolyn established Chosen One Re-Entry Program.  To date, Chosen One has helped not only her son, but more than 600 former offenders overcome the revolving door and stay out of the Judicial system.  Carolyn’s son has been out of prison for more than five years, is married, and has a great job with benefits.


 

Chrysalis Ministries, Inc.

www.Chrysmin.org
Chrysalis Ministries an interfaith agency, began in 1941 with a small group of local pastors who provided worship services and pastoral counseling at the County Jail. Incorporated as a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) agency in 1972, Chrysalis Ministries staff and volunteers provide religious services, support groups, and/or educational classes in 10 adult and juvenile detention and treatment facilities in the San Antonio Metropolitan and Karnes City areas. Our Family Renewal Center, located at 503 San Pedro, serves as our outreach center and administrative offices. A wide variety of religious and social services are provided at the Family Renewal Center to those formerly incarcerated in any detention or treatment facility. These same services are also provided to the family members of those incarcerated, or formerly incarcerated.

Before I was a Chaplain & Program Coordinator for Chrysalis Ministries, I was heavily hooked on drugs (heroin & cocaine) and abused alcohol with them. I went to prison five times for a total of 19 years because of my drug addictions. I thank God for Detention Ministries for being there because God came into my life in one of the ministry Bible classes. I thank God today for allowing me to be part of Chrysalis Ministries for 12 years now, and help people on the inside get set free.

– Cipriano


 

Community Mediation Maryland

www.mdmeditation.org
Community Mediation Maryland’s vision is for every Maryland resident to have awareness of and access to affordable, high quality community mediation services. CMM’s Mission is to advance collaborative conflict resolution in Maryland through educating the public, providing training and quality assurance, conducting research, and creatively applying mediation to social challenges. In seeking to make mediation accessible to all residents and to respond to social challenges, CMM developed the re-entry mediation program.
Re-entry mediation responds to the need, established in the criminal justice literature, for individuals preparing for release to have a strong support system in the community. Through re-entry mediation, individuals preparing for release and their family members have a chance to heal their relationships, address historical conflicts, and collaboratively plan for the transition into the community.

“My husband was in prison for 21 years. The first night he was home we shared the same bed and have every night for the past year. We can do that because mediation helped to bring us closer through better communication and by carrying out the agreements we made in mediation. For example, we make sure we have time for family and each other. You get out of mediation as much as you put into it. It helped us. Everyone could benefit from mediation. It can’t do anything but help.”
-Wife of a formerly incarcerated individual


 

Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries of NC, Inc.

www.DiscipleBibleOutreach.org
Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries (DBOM) is a collaborative ministry for the promotion and development of DISCIPLE Bible Study ministries in local churches and other outreach settings. There are three ministries that comprise Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries: Discipleship and Leadership Development for Local Church Ministry, DISCIPLE Prison Ministry, and Rings of Fellowship. DISCIPLE Prison Ministry strives to facilitate DISCIPLE groups in order for all class members to become more biblically literate and spiritually nourished. In addition, it hopes to educate inmates on how to witness about their faith to others and live as disciples
Click here to view a testimonial video.


 

Forgiven Ministry Inc

www.ForgivenMinistry.org
The mission of Forgiven Ministry, Inc. is to meet the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of the children of inmates, the inmates themselves, ex-inmates, and their families with the result of healing wounds inflicted by crime, redirecting lives, and restoring these individuals into the community as productive citizens, parents and family members.
We believe that if we can reach a child, then we won’t have to repair an adult.

This beautiful young lady had one wish that when she turned 16 that her father could dance the first dance with her at the Quinceanera, a spiritual celebration. She had longed to be able to dance with her father for years and now it was time for the celebration. Forgiven Ministry was able to get permission to video her and her father slow dancing together at the McConnell “One Day with God”. Her father handed her a beautiful rose and the dance began. Tears were flowing from all the eyes that watched. Little did we know that her father had a picture painted by an inmate of her in her gown and presented it to her after the dance. God is so good and hears the heart cry of His children.


Haven House Inc

www.HavenHouseNC.org
Haven House Services has provided services to children, teens and young adults (ages 7-22, depending on the program) and their families for the past 43 years. Through a variety of 12 distinct but interwoven programs, we offer evidenced based solutions for today’s most at-risk youth: gang-involved youth, court-involved youth, incarcerated youth, runaway and homeless youth, and youth with challenging behavior and family dynamics. We provide essential services to many of the most vulnerable, hardest to reach, and most in need youth in Wake County.

“I wanted to add in my two cents about my opinion of the program. Over the past few years, I’ve had two boys that have been involved in Community Service, Structured Day and Second Round. I think these are some of the best programs out here for the youth. The people that work with the children are always pleasant, and even though the circumstances for my children’s participation wasn’t always pleasant, their interaction with the staff of these programs was. I really appreciate everyone that gives a little of themselves to help a young person become a better person. I have seen attitude changes in my children and I don’t think I could have done it without Haven House’s services. Thank you :)”
-Parent (January 15, 2011)


 

Jobs for Life

www.JobsForLife.org
Jobs for Life is a global nonprofit organization that engages and equips the local Church to address the impact of joblessness through the dignity of work. By mobilizing a worldwide network of volunteers committed to applying biblically-based training and mentoring relationships, Jobs for Life helps those in need find dignity and purpose through meaningful work.
Established in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1996, Jobs for Life addresses the root causes of unemployment by uniting churches, businesses, and community organizations and facilitating positive transformation within lives and communities.

As a child, Dwight lived in poverty and was surrounded by violence. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, and losing his job at the age of 19, Dwight panicked under the weight of needing to provide for his wife and 10-month-old son. This decision cost Dwight his freedom, dignity, value, and purpose. He would experience the next 28 years of his life behind bars. When Dwight was released from prison, he spent the next two years jobless. As a convicted felon and a product of the prison system, no one would give him a second chance. We give thanks to God and others who believed in and reached out to Dwight through his Jobs for Life class at Trinity Baptist Church. Dwight has a renewed sense of his own dignity, value, purpose, freedom; he is providing for his family. He has started his own cleaning business and will soon be giving others like him the opportunity to experience the dignity of work.

“For a year and a half, I didn’t work, and it got to the point where I didn’t think I could work ever again,” a recent JfL graduate explained. “Jobs for Life helped me get out of my shell—it allowed me to open up and be myself around people.” “I was miserable”, another graduates shares, “and when I came here (to Jobs for Life) my life was turned upside down.”