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. The results for our peace and security are certainly disastrous.They're advocating for a prison ministry program focused on reentry called Out4Life that's meeting this week in San Antonio:
Prison Fellowship, the world's largest outreach to prisoners and their families, is partnering with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to bring the Out4Life movement to Texas. Out4Life is a holistic approach to prisoner re-entry that draws together government agencies and community organizations to help offenders stay on the straight and narrow. Out4Life Texas will hold a kick-off conference Monday through Wednesday in San Antonio. Representatives from government, business and nonprofit organizations will begin the process of building local coalitions across the state. These coalitions will work together, sharing resources and information, to make sure that ex-prisoners re-entering the community have the best opportunity for success.
The Out4Life movement is receiving a warm reception across the country. Conferences already have been held in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and Arizona. There, coalitions are forming and growing. As Larry Norris, recently retired director of Arkansas' Department of Corrections, said, "Successful prisoner re-entry can only occur when government, business, faith and community leaders work together. The Out4Life conference is focused on developing ways we can all come together to make our communities safer."
Out4Life can bring similar benefit to Texas. By surrounding ex-prisoners with the programs, services and relationships they need, Texas can help keep these men and women on the road to becoming peaceful, contributing members of society.