Second Chances Close to Home

In the minds of many people in church leadership, the prison and the prisoner have been "the uttermost parts of the earth"—people that we would like to reach someday, but not directly linked to us. But when your church's families and neighborhoods are affected by incarceration, prison suddenly becomes our Jerusalem—our backyard.


In 2007, a group of pastors and church leaders formed the Healing Communities USA, a response to record numbers of men and women returning from state and federal prison the year before. They concluded that the starting point for prisoner reentry ministry would be the individuals and families in their own churches who were impacted by incarceration. To reach those in prison, the Church must create a safe and welcoming place where families of the incarcerated and returning citizens can find second chances at life.

Thus, in a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, these church leaders began preparing training materials for their congregations based on two research-driven facts for successful reentry: