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Faith-based & Community Initiatives

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Prisoners and Prisoner Re-Entry


Over 10,000 ex-prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week and arrive on the doorsteps of our nation's communities. More than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year, and studies show that approximately two-thirds will likely be rearrested within three years of release. The high volume of returnees is a reflection on the tremendous growth in the U.S. prison population during the past 30 years. For the communities to which most former prisoners return (communities which are often impoverished and disenfranchised neighborhoods with few social supports and persistently high crime rates), the release of ex-offenders represents a variety of challenges.

What can be done to help people who are released from prison keep from being rearrested? With no job, no money, and no place to live, returnees often find themselves facing the same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place. Assisting ex-prisoners in finding and keeping employment, identifying transitional housing, and receiving mentoring are three key elements of successful re-entry into our communities.

“This year, some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience that if they can’t find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison…. America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.”

--President George W. Bush, 2004 State of the Union Address

Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative

Please visit the Office of Justice Programs' website dedicated to Reentry at the Department of Justice.

Federal Funding and Services for Prisoner Reentry

For a list of funding and service opportunities throughout the federal government for prisoner reentry, please click here.

NEW--Guidance on Reentry Partnerships for States and FBCOs

The Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, have just released Reentry Partnerships: A Guide for States & Faith-Based and Community Organizations.

Myths about Collaboration Between Corrections and Faith-Based Groups

Are you interested in engaging in prison ministry work but are unsure about the rules that apply? Have you heard contradictatory advice about what you are allowed and not allowed to do when engaging in prison ministry work? If so, then "Myths about Collaboration Between Corrections and Faith-Based Groups" is for you.

U.S. Department of Labor Grants $2 Million to Newark, N.J., to Build on Successes under President's Prisoner Re-entry Initiative

Video on Collaboration between FBCOs and Corrections

Collaboration between faith-based and other community organizations and corrections has proven to be a cost-effective way to meet agency needs and bring much needed reentry services to offenders. This unique partnership also helps to promote social justice, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety. This video of a September 2007 presentation will provide information to help correctional leaders and FBCOs better partner to create new and more successful re-entry initiatives.

Training on How Re-entry Halfway Houses Can Apply for Federal Bureau of Prison Contracts

The Federal Bureau of Prisons contracts with Residential Re-entry Centers (halfway houses or community corrections centers) to provide housing and training assistance to inmates who are nearing release.  RRCs provide a structured, supervised environment and counseling, job placement, and other services that help inmates gradually rebuild their ties to the community and find meaningful work, housing, transitional drug abuse treatment, and support.  Both faith-based and secular centers are eligible to apply - - for-profit or non-profit, government or private organizations.  This new 36-minute audio-visual training will introduce you to what BOP is looking for and how your center can prepare to apply.

Guidance for Government on the Design and Operation of a Constitutionally-Valid "Voucher"-Based Delivery System of Reentry Services for Ex-Offenders

In a voucher system beneficiaries choose their provider of a government-funded service. Many believe that a voucher-based program will increase the supply, variety and quality of reentry services available to clients: more job placement specialists, drug counselors, transitional housing beds, and mentors than before. Faith-based organizations (FBOs) may be attracted by the fact that under a voucher system (unlike a direct grant) they may integrate their religious perspective with the federally-funded social service, to provide a holistic approach. Religious providers of transitional housing, for example, need not separate by time or location a group prayer or scripture study from the meal time. As a result, faith-based providers can be authentic to their mission and message in all their programming and at all times. Some believe this will ensure that FBOs can more efficiently do what they do best.
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Prisoner Reentry Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations

The Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Labor has just released the "Prisoner Reentry Toolkit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations." The toolkit is a guide for faith-based and community organizations interested in establishing or enhancing their prisoner reentry programs. The document covers a variety of topics such as recruiting volunteers and clients, case management, job placement, mentoring, and forming successful partnerships. The toolkit can be accessed at

Interview with Director Steven T. McFarland

Steven T. McFarland, Director of the Task Force for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, spoke with the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy regarding several Justice Department initiatives that encourage the involvement of faith-based organizations in prisons. Read the March 13, 2007 transcript of the interview.

Podcast: The Realities of Mentoring

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), a legislatively-established, independent executive branch agency of the Federal government, oversees a faith-based mentoring program. In this 30 minute audio clip, volunteer faith-based mentor Reverend Yvonne Cooper and former offender Paul Tranthan discuss the realities of mentoring to an offender released from prison.

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