MINNEAPOLIS – Prison Fellowship Academy is a prison program founded on faith. It celebrates 15 years of successfully reducing the chances of re-offending among inmates. This is their effort to fight recidivism.
Through aid and backing of community mentors, Prison Fellowship Academy at Lino Lake have helped bring inmates to the understanding that their lives and future should not be defined by the crimes that landed them in jail.
The transformation of inmates’ lives is not the only impressive benefit of this program. It has also helped the State of Minnesota save immensely on prison budgets.
Prison Fellowship Academy Does Its Part to Fight Recidivism
The Prison Fellowship Academy has a room space dedicated to it inside the facility. It’s solely designed to enhance the process of rehabilitating inmates whose lives have been affected through crime and imprisonment.
“If you go into prison and you’re kind of a hardened criminal, your world view, your purpose of life is very different than a person who sees that God has a plan for your life, that God has a purpose for your life, and that God wants to provide you an opportunity to live out your God-given potential,” said Prison Fellowship CEO James Ackerman.
Prison Fellowship Academy impacts the lives of 150 inmates at a time – helping to transform their thought patterns. Finding faith in the prison also gives the inmates’ lives a new definition with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.
The program extends over 18 months and focuses solely on the principles, lifestyle, and teachings of Jesus Christ, although you do not necessarily have to be a Christian to join.
Ackerman noted that recidivism amidst participants of the program reduced by up to 40-percent, which helps saves the state money.
“It saves the state money because less people need to be incarcerated if they’re not coming back into prison, right?” Ackerman said.
George Lang, a graduate of the Prison Fellowship Program mentioned that the program transformed his life positively.
“Change doesn’t start from the day you get out. Change starts from the time that you’re in,” Lang said. “They modeled to me, the pieces that I learned here, not only the cognizant pieces, but it was the Christ-centered teachings that they brought.”
Lang is currently the executive director of Freedom Works in North Minneapolis, another faith-based nonprofit program established to offer former inmates who wish to start a new life out of prison.
Prison Fellowship does not depend on tax payer’s money, but on generous donations from individuals and foundations.
The program stands as a standard for other parts of the country. The mission is to ensure that there is a similar prison faith based program for every man and woman in all states. It will go a long way in keeping inmates from the cycle of re-incarceration.