Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus bringing the Truth of Life while meeting practical needs. The U.S. has a national recidivism rate of 68%, most of which is directly linked to the lack of resources available for reentry. At the surface, we recognize the practical needs of those transitioning out of prison to be food, housing, transportation, and employment.
Scratch deeper, and the statistics show that up to 70% of men released from MN prisons have not addressed their chemical dependency issues and are left with unfulfilled treatment mandates. They neither possess the tools needed for securing gainful employment nor the cognitive aptitude for maintaining a job. For most, the lack of employment only reinforces either a criminal lifestyle or the dependency to live off of government entitlements in order to survive. Studies strongly suggest that not having a healthy social support system in the community upon release causes most to return to unhealthy relationships that ultimately lead them back into prison. Securing independent housing with a felony can be added to the endless list of obstacles beyond the “surface”. Any one of these challenges can feel insurmountable to those integrating back into society.
In January 2017, the FreedomWorks board unanimously approved an expanded vision. This vision allows us to take a more holistic approach to meeting the practical needs of our residents by adding a variety of new programs. Adding these programs will allow us to cast a larger net in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that would not have participated in our program. Our vision, going forward, includes on-site residential and outpatient chemical dependency treatment. It encompasses cognitive therapy and a work training program that will employ twenty-eight men in part-time jobs through our Culinary Arts and Building Maintenance Programs. We will offer extended on-site housing for our graduates. We will now have the ability to extend supportive housing to a much broader population participating in one of our many reentry services upon their release.