Monday, June 28, 2010

Out4Life

An op ed column by state Rep. Jerry Madden and the former Virginia Attorney General in the Austin Statesman on Saturday begins with the following analogy regarding reentry:
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.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re-entry programs presume that people convicted of crimes are unable to manage their lives responsibly. This is probably true of most prisoners, but it is not true of all of them. Many crimes--for instance, being a felon in possession of a firearm--can be committed by people who are well-adjusted, responsible adults who just did something that is illegal. Other crimes, such as drug trafficking, may be the result of economic pressures, rather than the inability to manage one's life. Many people leave prison after the first time and never return; essentially, they've learned the lesson they were supposed to learn from being incarcerated. We need to get away from the idea that people who have run afoul of the law are somehow necessarily defective human beings. Some criminal laws punish behavior that is not inherently undesirable. These programs should have a diagnostic component to separate those who need assistance from those who have simply broken the law.

Anonymous said...

Much like described in the book "Raped by The State', Texas juveniles are released without proper treatment and the recidivist rate sky-rockets. With some effective treatment these juveniles could become legal, responsible and caring citizens. Treatment before and after release are the keys to success.

sunray's wench said...

You can have treatment and re-enrty programmes without the religious element included. Except in Texas. It is perfectly possible to be a law-abiding citizen and not worship, or even recognise, the Christian God.

When inmates say they have found God, they are ridiculed. When a state-sanctioned organisation or programme tells them to find God it is promoted. There is a large amount of hypocrasy here.

Anonymous said...

"When inmates say they have found God, they are ridiculed."

So was Jesus. Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?

A completely brilliant question!!!!!!!

Prison Doc said...

I work inside the razor wire and they ALL need re-entry programs, just some more than others. Unless the offender is innocent of their alleged offense--and maybe even if they are--they need good re-entry work, if nothing else to learn what they are up against.

Programs like Out4Life can offer hope and a future; both are needed. I would hope that families and friends would be more interested in assuring the inmates' success at re-entry rather than arguing about whether it's a faith-based program, or whether 100% need it. Faith based programs are not free of failures but they work better than anything else.

Prison Doc

sunray's wench said...

Prison Doc, it all depends on what the re-entry programme focuses on when it is faith-based. I'm all for people being helped to find employment, learn how to manage their money, good parenting techniques etc. But when inmates have to pretend to believe in a particular religion just to get one foot on the waiting list, and when the BPP start to require completion of such programmes before parole is granted, then there is a problem.

R. Shackleford said...

I don't think the state can be trusted to rehabilitate anyone. In all my dealings with the state, which admittedly fall short of prison, I have found them to be illogical, uncaring, and staffed with truly ignorant people. I'd be surprised if anyone learned anything from programs such as these other than a smothering resentment towards the state, and a fervent desire to carry on doing wrong, but smarter this time. In my opinion, when you've done your time, you've paid your debt, and they ought to leave you the hell alone. Give them a voluntary option, and let them decide. I also agree with the wench, hitting folks over the head with a bible only makes them dislike the bible. I actually don't even understand how the state can require folks in pretrial to go to AA, isn't there something about separation of church and state? Anyone who's ever been to an AA meeting can testify (ha) that it is ALL about god. And yet, if you don't go to a meeting every week or w/e, they'll revoke your bond and off to wilco's sub par chicken fried lock up you go. God and the judicial system ought not to be anywhere near one another.

Anonymous said...

They have their "coalition" its called their gang.

Who surrounds who? It looks like we are surrounded by them.

Texas Maverick said...

anonymous 4:39 look up the web site TIFA.org and find a meeting. TIFA is working with the Reentry Family & Faith Basedwork group on the family issues. If alcohol & drugs are involved go look up Al-anon in your area. It works! To Shackford, don't knock until you try it. It is the God of your understanding, not mine or my friends, but yours. My God is awesome and still works miracles.

Prison Doc said...

I'm not holding myself out as an authority but because of my job I see what works and what does not.

A whole lot of stuff does not work.

Faith based programs offer a chance by holding out a foundation of belief. They are a long way from perfect and have a lot of failures too. One who calls AA religious program is not current with what AA is today...it is a secular "pick any God you want" program. Those AA programs that are closer to a traditional God seem to be more effective.

If I had a loved one scheduled for release I would encourage them to seek a faith based program. It may not work, but it has a much greater chance than anything else does.

Anonymous said...

Doc, I hope my son upon his release will become involved in a faith based program. My husband and I are here for him. I am sure there will be things we won't understand, I just pray that I can be patient with him and the system. Sometimes my mouth overloads and I lose my senses, especially when it comes to my kids. He is in his twenties. Any words of wisdom are appreciated. Cathy

sunray's wench said...

Cathy, if your son is willing, get him some post-traumatic stress counselling when he gets home. That will help him deal with the feelings of anger and resentment he will almost certainly feel, better than any faith-based programme.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sunray. On our last visit he warned me that he was not the same. He said his fuse is shorter and he loses his temper a lot faster. My heart breaks whenever he tells me these things, but I must remain strong and positive. My husband, of 34 years is our families strength. I know that we will be ok, but I am scared of what the future will hold for my son and his son.
I thank you so much for your words of advice and I will definitely take them to heart. Cathy

Anonymous said...

Sunray is exactly correct--there is no need whatsoever to involve "faith" (translation--belief in a fundamentalist christian god) in a rehabilitation program. They may offer some valuable services but the GOAL of these programs is not rehabilitation, but conversion to THEIR faith. This is totally inappropriate for a state funded entity like a prison.



As for AA not being religious--please. AA was founded upon the principles of a "christian" cult-like group called The Oxford Group and it's "steps" lifted directly from it; the Bog Book is rife with allusions to god--the Christian God--and the steps state over and over that belief in god is essential to recovery--and not just any god, but one that is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient--one who can hear your prayers, cares about you personally, and has the power to miraculously assist you with your disease. The "choose your own god" concept is a bait and switch tactic. A cursory reading of the 12 steps demonstrates that one cannot work the steps as written without belief in a certain type of deity--as aforementioned, one that is able to hear prayers and answer them, provide guidance, etc--and this is obviously not the case of one chooses "nature", a doorknob (the old AA favorite) or "the aa group" as their higher power.

Additionally, in Texas at least, most AA groups end their meetings by joining hands, circling up, bowing heads and reciting "The Lord's Prayer".

But it's "not religious".

Right.

Even the Supreme Court found AA to be a religious organization and ordered that people could not be compelled by the govt. to attend for that very reason.

Not only that, but it does NOT "work", contrary to Texas Maverick's advice to attend. The success rate for AA--according to it's OWN triennial survey of membership--is 5%. The number of people who recover from substance abuse with no treatment whatsoever is also 5%. AA decided to eliminate that question from their survey after those rather unflattering results came out. AA is NOT substance abuse treatment.

Anonymous said...

AA groups can be religious if the members of that group choose for it to be religious. Most AA groups are secular with members believing in a higher being of their choosing. There are thousands of AA groups across the nation; if you don't like the religious tones of the meeting you are attending, head down the street and find another group.

Faith has a place in re-entry and rehabilitation. I work with these clients daily and the successful clients I have worked with have all had one thing in common: faith in something. Not faith in a Christian God, or faith in a strong organized religion, but a faith that there is something greater out there beyond themselves, whatever that something may be. One of my clients explained to me that he did not believe in God, but he believed that there was a power, a life-force, out there somewhere, and this belief that he was insignificant in the grand scheme of things but had the potential to be significant helped him succeed. The "faith-based" network did not convert him, but it at least helped him find a way.

I have heard this argument before where critics don't want the State involved in re-entry and rehab, but the only other viable (and affordable) option is nonprofit organizations, many of which are faith-based. Sure, you can go to a private firm for treatment services, but the accountability for a good product is not as strong as with nonprofits. Most folks in this sector care deeply about advancing the mission of their nonprofit in order to ensure success for their clients, not create converts to a particular religion.

I have always been a fan of the myriad programs offered by TDCJ to inmates, especially those coming up for parole. These programs, in conjunction with a re-entry program, obviously would have a significant impact rather than simply throwing an ex-con to the wolves with $100 and a paper sack at the end of his/her sentence. Parole is severely under-utilized in Texas, and I certainly hope that TDCJ, BPP, the Gov and Leg will get on board with a similar program to Out4Life by reducing the number of inmates released upon completion of their entire sentence and increasing the number of parolees receiving needed services.

Anonymous said...

It seems important to be aware when our concern for other people actually becomes rescuing or enabling.

To always take their side and say they are innocent, to advocate that they be released when they haven't changed, to blame the police, the crime labs, the judges, etc. for the mess they have made of their life - what is that? To never advocate personal responsibility - what is that?

Here are some more examples of enabling behaviors…

* Repeatedly bailing them out – of jail, financial problems, other “tight spots” they get themselves into
* Giving them “one more chance” – …then another…and another
* Ignoring the problem – because they get defensive when you bring it up or your hope that it will magically go away
* Joining them in the behavior when you know they have a problem with it – Drinking, gambling, etc.,
* Joining them in blaming others – for their own feelings, problems, and misfortunes
* Accepting their justifications, excuses and rationalizations – “I’m destroying myself with alcohol because I’m depressed”.
* Avoiding problems – keeping the peace, believing a lack of conflict will help
* Doing for them what they should be able to do for themselves -
* Softening or removing the natural consequences of the problem behavior
* Trying to “fix” them or their problem
* Repeatedly coming to the “Rescue”
* Trying to control them or their problem

Anonymous said...

Clarification:

To those who understand and practice the principles of recovery, the note above was not addressed to you. Keep us the good work and bless you!

The note was only address to those who practice rescuing and enabling, the opposite of recovery.

Anonymous said...

"When inmates say they have found God, they are ridiculed."

So was Jesus. Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?

A completely brilliant question!!!!!!!

6/28/2010 12:13:00 PM


Because the library in prison has a fantasy/fiction session is my guess.

I don't care if an ex-con found GOD, Mohammad, Gandhi, or Buddha. The ONLY thing I care is if they found themselves, and have realized to live in a free society, they must live by the rules and laws put down in front of them.

I have little hope for the largest mass of prisoner that are let out however. Until they fix the broken system that continues to punish ex-cons for crimes they paid for, we will still have high re-offense rates, and thus more 'justification' to keep people locked up.

Anonymous said...

A better re-entry program is definitely needed. Changes and Project Rio are a joke. I discharged my sentence and got going again with a lot of help from my family and a small inheritance from my dad (I was able to buy a used pickup.) Religion wasn't a part of re-entry, but my relationship with God (found in prison, by the way) gave me a foundation to re-establish my life on; a foundation to keep me from going back to my old ways. I hope a re-entry program can provide that, Christian-based or not. Now I'm happy to report I have rejoined society as a contributing member. I have a church family that knows my past, yet still accepts me and is a good support. As for the PTS counseling mentioned in an earlier comment, I agree. After getting out I struggle with depression and anger, I hope counseling for this is included in any re-entry program.

R. Shackleford said...

The god and aa thing really irritated me, so I did some research.

Here's what I found:

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-spirrel.html

http://www.positiveatheism.org/rw/alcohol.htm

http://alcoholism.about.com/library/weekly/aa990422.htm

etc. The list goes on. Sorry for the click work involved, I still can't get the demon box to do right. In short, various high courts have found aa to be a religious organization, and compelling people to attend it violates their constitutional rights. That Texas still requires this anyway doesn't surprise me in the least.

Anonymous said...

Wench, it's been proven that faith based re entry programs work. The Vance unit in Richmond is a prime example. The state wide recividism rate two years ago was somewhere close to 67% and Vance had a SINGLE digit rate. The proof is in the pudding. And parole doesn't make them go there. Hamilton has an 18 month program that is not faith based. These guys volunteer to go to Vance. And they can worship any God they choose while there. If you are still a skeptic, I invite you to go on a tour with me of the unit to see exactly what is going on there.

Anonymous said...

Valentin’s day is express approaching links of london across the earth will start stress out about it. Most men, however, delay awaiting the last jiffy to goods their Valentine’s links of london sale. This is because they’re whichever dreamy, languid or don’t have any thoughts to make the day unusual. links of london charms , Valentine’s day is a very painless incident to celebrate. Here are some tips to duck being the average Joe this year! The two most communal gifts on links of london sweetie bracelet day plants and chocolates. These are very common because ladies like chocolate and flora are an image of links of london charm bracelet . It is definitely recommended to give one or, both of these gifts to your female, however, why impede there? baby and flowers certainly the way you feel about your links of London rings. If yes, then maybe this is where you should rest. One of best other idea Links Of London .For example, they, however, give off unimaginable faculty.

chunxue said...

During the World War II, Art Deco jewellery was ugg sale a very popular style among women. The females started ugg boots wearing short dresses and cut their hair short. And uggs such boyish style was accessorized with Art Deco jewellery. They used cheap ugg boots long dangling earrings and necklaces, multiple bracelets and bold ugg boots uk rings.Art Deco jewellery has harshly geometric and symmetrical theme instead disocunt ugg boots of free flowing curves and naturalistic motifs. Art Deco Jewelry buy ugg boots today displays designs that consist of arcs, circles, rectangles, squares, and ugg outlet triangles. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings are added with long ugg boots outlet lines and curves.One example of Art Deco jewelry is the Art Deco ring. Art Deco rings have ugg mall sophisticated sparkle and bold styles. These rings are not intended for a subtle look, they are meant to be noticed. Hence, these are perfect for people with bold styles.

Anonymous said...

christian louboutin is one of the most stylish shoes brand,louboutin shoes are high-heels, and they need christian louboutin pumps sale to bring customer new feeling of the christian louboutin boots. Women love the CL shoes to show their beautiful christian louboutin shoes, and christian louboutin sale can give them chance to own cheap christian louboutin shoes.christian louboutin sandals|christian louboutin wedges|christian shoes,christian louboutin outlet.