Friday, September 16, 2011

Starting the Employment Relationship Behind Bars to Reduce Recidivism

A job can change a life...especially in the case of ex-offenders re-entering society from jail.

The leading factor as to whether a former inmate will return to prison is their ability to obtain a job. That is why my organization Belay Enterprises partners with the church to create faith-based businesses that employ individuals rebuilding lives.

A few years ago, we began asking what would happen if we started the relationship with ex-offenders before they were ex-offenders? I became intrigued with this idea when reading about how the Prison Entrepreneurship Project in Texas saw developing the relationship with individuals while they were still in jail as key to the lower recidivism rates they achieved.

I'm excited that Belay may be able to test this idea in the future with a possible partnership with the Denver Jail to create a food packing and culinary training business in the jail's new commercial kitchen.

Two friends of Belay, Walt Hawley and Brad Behan, have put together an exciting plan to initially manufacture a proprietary commercial thickening agent which could launch a number of jobs for individuals still in jail. The potential business as ministry would allow us to develop relationships with inmates before they re-enter society, continue the relationship after they are released and help them find employment in the real world.

As this project develops, we hope to also operate a commercial kitchen outside the jail where ex-offenders could continue their training after serving their sentences. All together, we believe this will significantly reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders achieve self-sufficiency benefiting their families and society as a whole.

But there are still a lot of pieces that need to come together to make this a reality. And we would really value your prayers.

So stay tuned. We will continue to provide updates as this exciting project develops.

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