For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 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: 35-36
The Need for our Project
A prisoner’s scenario– The day of his release has finally come. After living a highly structured and regimented life behind bars, he anxiously anticipates his freedom. However, his excitement is over-shadowed with fear and doubt of what lies ahead. He has been given $50 and some street clothes. Having spent the last several years behind bars, this man has no network of support, and no foundation upon which to stand and begin building a new life. Do you see the problem? Feeling unaccepted and uncertain of where to turn for help, he chooses survival through the only lifestyle he’s ever really known…a life of crime. This scenario plays out thousands of times each year in the lives of newly released inmates, creating a perpetual cycle of crime and imprisonment.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 600,000 prisoners are released each year in the U.S.and arrive on the doorsteps of communities nationwide. A far greater number reenter communities from local jails, and for many offenders and /defendants, this may occur multiple times in a year.” This poses many challenges to communities, including public safety concerns, and limited availability of jobs, housing, and social services for the returning prisoners. “Today's intense cycle of arrest, removal, incarceration, and reentry—at levels four times higher than 20 years ago—has had profound consequences for our community. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) over 50 percent of those released from prison will find their way back into legal trouble within three years.
The Indiana Department of Corrections reports the number of people in the Indiana prison system grew from 68,599 in 2003 to 77,316 in 2006. (12%). At the Branchville Correctional Facility in Branchville, IN nearly 75 inmates are released each month, and the recidivism rate is currently 38%. Prisoner reentry initiatives are gaining momentum and the gravity of this issue is commanding the attention of community leaders at local, state, and Federal levels. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)
Other Proven Efforts/ Intended Results / Defining Success - In 2003, the Department of Labor Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiative launched Ready4Work, a three-year pilot program to address the needs of ex-prisoners. The program emphasized employment training and other transitional services to help prepare ex-offenders for successful reentry. “A total of 4,482 formerly incarcerated individuals enrolled in Ready4Work.
97 percent received comprehensive case management services,
86 percent received employment services and
63 percent received mentoring services.
Ready4Work sites placed 2,543 participants (57 percent) into jobs, with 63 percent of those placed retaining their job for three consecutive months after placement. Ready4Work recidivism rates are half the national re-incarceration rate at six-months and 44 percent lower than the national rate of re-incarceration one-year after release.” (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiatives.)
Brother's Keeper Program
The intended result for our program is for these men to become well-equipped to successfully put their criminal past behind them and become productive community members, good husbands, involved fathers, valued employees, and committed volunteers. The success of the Brother’s Keeper Program will be determined by tracking progress toward stated goals and objectives.
Collaboration – We partner with several agencies and individuals such as
Branchville Correctional Facility (mentoring and program referrals),
Sheriff’s Department of Vanderburgh County (program referrals, shared resources),
Vanderburgh County Jail (mentoring, program referrals),
Teen Challenge of Indiana (program referrals),
Judges and probation officers (Drug Court program referrals),
Prison Fellowship (program referrals, shared resources),
Vanderburgh County Council (community advocates) and
Local churches (financial support and shared resources).
Other Funding Sources - We have received funding for the Brother’s Keeper Program from the Vanderburgh Community Foundation, Toyota, Old National Bank and the Holiday Foundation. These gifts support our renovation and refurbishment of our homes, and the purchase of household furniture, linens, and supplies that are not donated. As we move forward with our mission, we continue to seek and build diversified community partnerships to include local corporations/foundations, businesses, individuals, churches, fund raisers, and our own board members. Each resident with income must make a monthly payment for the housing and services Brother's Keeper provides.