This month, prison chaplains across the country are targeting prisoners with enrollment forms for a reentry program offered by Crossroad Bible Institute (CBI). For the first time, in addition to giving their children Christmas presents through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program, some 300,000 incarcerated parents nationwide will have the chance to become CBI students.
Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Crossroad Bible Institute has agreed to mentor incarcerated dads and moms who are participating in Angel Tree. For twenty-seven years, Angel Tree has been helping inmates provide Christmas gifts for their children. “The best way to help the Angel Tree kids is through their parents,” says Crossroad Bible Institute President, Dr. David Schuringa. “We can help the parents bring home the ultimate Christmas present of a changed life.” CBI hopes to strengthen that family bond by offering parents an opportunity to take part in a long-term, faith-based program that will prepare them for life after prison.
“It is critically important to enlist positive role models to mentor our nation’s prisoners,” says Mark Earley, President of Prison Fellowship that was founded by Chuck Colson. “Through this partnership, Crossroad Bible Institute and Prison Fellowship are strengthening entire families from top to bottom, creating a strong, stable family that’s ready to thrive when reunited.”
Research indicates that the children of inmates are five times more likely than the children of non-inmates to be incarcerated as adults. These kids are also at greater risk for addictions, educational failure and delinquency. In fact, most prisoners are products of broken homes. With over 2 million men and women incarcerated in the United States, more children than ever have one or both parents behind bars.
Through personalized, interactive correspondence courses, Crossroad Bible Institute prepares prisoners for release by providing in-depth mentorship in a faith-based program. Prisoners can continue in the five-year program no matter how many times they are transferred and even upon release at home, CBI reported. Instructors at CBI correct the completed lessons, which focus on reentry issues, and write personal letters of encouragement to the inmates. “Without reentry education during incarceration,” says Schuringa, “most ex-offenders will return to a life of crime.”