In the 1978 film Straight Time, Dustin Hoffman plays a life-long thief who completes a six-year stint in prison only to find the world he left behind impossible to navigate. A crooked parole officer and a society reluctant to forgive all but ensure his return to prison.
With 2 million men and women incarcerated in the United States and nearly 95 percent scheduled for release before or upon completion of their sentence, aid for reentry is essential to offer the best chance to the individual and society.
Society tends to be wary of individuals with criminal records, and it can be difficult for former inmates to find employment and housing. Years behind bars can mean a lack of available funds, so transportation becomes a problem. Today’s necessities such as computers, internet service and cell phones can be out of their monetary reach—bank loans to obtain funds for reestablishing themselves all but impossible, with ex-cons receiving a perfunctory “no” at every turn.
The experience can be daunting for even the most well-intentioned reformed inmates, and the possibility of rearrest becomes more and more likely with each discouraging day.
In 1974, Charles Colson, Richard Nixon’s counsel and “hatchet man,” pled guilty to obstruction of justice and served seven months in Alabama’s Maxwell Prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. Upon his release, he felt led by God to fulfill a promise to those he left behind. In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship, working in partnership with Christian churches and organizations to serve prisoners, former prisoners, and their families for a greater chance of success in the aftermath of a prison term.
Today, Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families. It is dedicated to reducing recidivism through job training, individual and family counseling, and opportunities for continued education.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.