Have you ever experienced a life-changing event that you looked forward to, but as time progressed you found yourself facing situations for which you were not prepared? Perhaps it was going to college, taking a new job, or getting married. How did you feel when things turned out differently than you anticipated? Were you scared? Angry? Excited? Did you have someone with whom you could process those feelings? Being released from prison is such an event.  

The former inmate has been in a structured environment with little decision-making. Suddenly he is outside those walls facing many unknowns and making decisions for which he was not prepared. He needs a phone to be able to stay in contact with his probation officer, but there are so many different phones from which to choose and so many different plans. How can he decide what he needs? Rent, clothing, and household items may seem out of reach. How will he get these items with no transportation and little money since he is not yet working?

Addressing expectations and looking at life’s realities is part of our mentoring program. We begin developing relationships with the guys before they are released. This allows us to create trust and respect as we meet one-on-one or in small groups. Our purpose is to assess their social skills, economic skills, and spiritual development. We seek to match employers with soon-to-be-released prisoners. Our goal is for these formerly incarcerated individuals to add value to the communities where they will be living.

Perhaps in your life-changing event, you had a counselor, mentor, or coach available to help you process your feelings and to answer questions or provide general guidance. This is how we prepare the soon-to-be-released prisoners, giving them hope and the assurance that they can be successful!