Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ideas For System Reform - Part 5

Are non-profits, like churches, able to provide the help needed to make a lasting change?



Tough question with a simple answer that is far from easy... YES. 



If you disagree, that’s OK. But then let me ask, who can help the criminal and their family to make the permanent changes they need?? 



Try to see it this way, while the government can impose legislation to set-up new policies with improved programs and coordinated agencies to oversee every aspect, it is the regular person at work who will interact with the offenders, and people are flawed. We grow tired of doing the same job every day, and we bring our problems to work with us. We grow discouraged and lose hope in our efforts, find fault in the system, and look for more income to compensate for the crummy days we have with perhaps a work environment that has too little joy.


Now compare this with a non-profit, especially a church, where hope is part of the daily offering given to those in need. Please understand, volunteers are looking for ways to help. Any way. Any idea. Any chance to provide a glimpse of something better for another human being who is struggling. Many times, the volunteers are themselves survivors from jail and prison who know what it is like to attempt to re-build all one their own.  

  • to learn about CURE - Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, click Here 

 When the government agency closes their doors at night, it is the volunteer who comes along side the offender and their family(more than half of prisoners are parents, The Economist, link Here) to help with the mending. To give assistance where the government plans fall short. And if a volunteer is not available? You can imagine what happens. Criminal behaviors get repeated, families self-destruct, pain abounds. Am I over-exaggerating? Is it truly this bad? According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 30% of all re-arrests occur within the first six months of freedom, and 43% of American offenders are returned to state prison within three years of their release. 

  • The Pew report found that if states could reduce their re-offending rates by 10%, more than $635m could be saved in prison costs.

  • “Ex-prisoners must get support in their own neighbourhoods rather than looking to centrally-based institutions.”

 Government programs can purposely connect with volunteer support groups outside of the normal system. Why? Because a program can only go so far. A non-profit and Faith based organization can help an offender see them-self through the eyes of someone who has hope inside them. Willing to share of their time and energy, volunteers can make a lasting difference in how “Re-Entry” takes with an ex-convict. Volunteers want to see change and make a difference. And that's why they are effective. We can see “it” in them, and they want it more than a government employee ever can.


Hebrews 13:1 & 3 - 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them...

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