By Kristen Johnson
Within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Within five years of release, about three-quarters (76.6 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Of those prisoners who were rearrested, more than half (56.7 percent) were arrested by the end of the first year. (National Institute of Justice).
Clearly, recidivism is a huge problem in American prisons. What can we do to support people in prisons to help reduce this problem? What can we do to show the love of Jesus?
We can support programs within prisons that show love, provide education, give support, assist with anger management, and provide support to affected family members.
GRIP (Guiding Rage Into Power) is one such program, and has been in progress for 20 years in prisons, mostly with violent offenders in San Quentin State Prison. It is a one-year program that focuses on understanding the origin of the offender’s violence and then developing skills to manage violent impulses before it’s too late. (Insight-Out).
What is unique about this particular program is that it focuses on the root causes of violence and re-education through self-education and inquiry. Participants focus on stopping violent behavior, developing emotional intelligence, cultivating mindfulness, and (extremely important) understanding victim impact. It’s also important to note that experienced students mentor new students and all participants must sign a GRIP Peace Pledge. That Pledge is very comprehensive, and includes the statement that I am a safe person and will not engage in violent behavior. Furthermore, I will utilize my skills to resolve conflict in my community and be a resource for peace.(Insight-Out).
I am blessed to have been raised by a Father who has been involved in prison ministry during my entire lifetime (and now even more so in retirement). His stories of healing and God’s love behind prison walls have amazed me for many years. So, I am always looking for ways to support any programs that assist the incarcerated. I am really impressed with this program and I would like to see it continue. In addition, I would love to see this program (and others like it) instituted in prisons throughout the country. That, of course, requires public funding which never seems to go to the social programs that so desperately need it. (Time to write to your state and federal representatives yet again!)
To read more about the GRIP program, see here: http://insight-out.org/index.php/programs/grip-program.
Thank you to the wonderful people who work in the GRIP program to assist people in prison who so desperately need a new way. I will be praying for you.
Matthew 25:36 (NRSV): I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io