"Reducing Crime By Caring For Ex-Offenders" [Turks and Caicos]

Reducing crime by “Caring for Ex-offenders"
Written by fp staff
FP Turks and Caicos | Thursday, 20 January 2011 10:55

In many countries, approximately 50 percent of all criminals released from prison offend again within two years, a statistic that if addressed could dramatically reduce a country’s crime rate.

In 2010 crime was foremost in the minds of many Turks and Caicos Islands residents and business owners, and reducing crime was considered a top priority for the local police.

One organisation spreading its ministry across the world is hoping to help the TCI community embrace ex-offenders to reduce crime.

After holding trainings in Trinidad and Tobago, Emmy Wilson visited the TCI and spoke to the fp about an organisation founded by her church, Caring for Ex-Offenders (CFEO), and what it could offer the TCI.

“Through our experience, we have found that where organisations and churches are ready to help in practical ways, the likelihood of individuals re-offending is greatly reduced,” Wilson said.

CFEO began as a result of the growth of the Alpha course in prisons all over the United Kingdom, linking offenders with a church upon their release. CFEO’s vision is to reduce reoffending by reintegrating ex-offenders into society through the local church.

“We equip churches, through training and advice, to enable them to support ex-offenders to live transformed lives,” Wilson explains.

In most countries, ill-prepared communities are unwilling to receive ex-offenders, and within two years, more than 50 percent of ex-offenders are returned to prison for parole violations or for committing new offences. In some nations, the re-offending rate is as high as 80 percent, she says.

“Many of these men and women come from areas and relationships that have contributed to their stay in prison, and if we don’t meet them at the prison gate when they are released, their criminal friends will,” she said.

Wilson says volunteers from the organization will help offenders released from prison with basic essentials as well as help disciple and find them safe housing and jobs were possible.

“What was once taboo, people are now volunteering to help and accepting ex-offenders in their community,” she said.

CFEO works together with local organisations such as the criminal justice system, police and probation services, as well as employment agencies, housing agencies, churches and volunteers to help settle individuals back into their communities.

“We welcome every type of ex-offender into our church and have learned a great deal through this experience and we want to share that with others,” Wilson said.

Currently there are 700 churches in the U.K. registered as Caring for Ex-Offenders. Wilson says they have welcomed more than 50 ex-offenders into her church, and since they started the program, only two have re-offended. “We believe we have not only made our community safer, but saved the government millions of pounds,” she said.

Wilson hopes to find local churches and individuals who are interested in embracing the Alpha and CFEO program in the TCI, helping to both reduce crime and care for all members of local society.

“We all need to know salvation,” she said. “If you can give people hope, the knowledge they are loved, forgiven and accepted by Christ, we can help set their lives on the right path.”

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!