Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner David Donahue called a 'townhall meeting' last night on the campus of Martin University, to discuss Ex-offender Re-entry programs in our community.
The numbers are staggering... $1.3 Billion dollars are spent every 24 months for keeping prisoners in the state system. And their headcounts are growing at a rate of 4% annually.
During 2008, more than 5,000 IDOC prisoners will return to Marion County alone. Without a job and accountability structures, a very high percentage will return to the very habits that helped get them into prison in the first place. And not surprisingly, a very high percentage will return again to prison. Unless we help.
Alternatively, according to Commissioner Donahue, $80 million could be saved annually with just a 5% reduction in recidivism (rate of ex-offenders returning to prison).
Ok, so where's the Church as part of the solution? Are we willing to step up and be the redemptive agents that Jesus called us to be in the world? A number of our people are. Here's the wiki-page we're compiling of all the prison-related ministries serving our area.
Here are some examples...
Mike Boler, Dan Gushee, Steve Shoup, Bob Irvin
One of our cafe friends (and board member), Dan Gushee, provides housing for ex-offenders. More than just housing though, he helps guys be accountable... and discipled... as they return to the community.
It was fun to introduce Dan to another friend last night, Bob Irvin, who's leads a men's Read-Thru-The-Bible group in Carmel and is involved in the Kairos prison ministry (not to mention serving as a board member for Faith Hope & Love ). Bob is now working to build a micro-loan mechanism whereby we can help ex-offenders start a small business.
I hope you can begin to imagine how hard it is for ex-offenders to find a 'real' job. But becoming a small business owner... ie, provider of services such as landscaping, tree-trimming, etc. may well be a more reasonable possibility... with a little help. Bob told us of a guy who had been ministered to by the Kairos ministry, now released and working hard to restart his work life, by cutting down trees... with a handsaw. The proposed micro-loan fund would help obtain a $7,000 small-business loan to make it possible to buy a used truck, wood-chipper and chain-saws. Maybe even put some other guys to work with him as the business grows.