Pilot Program Helps Prepare Inmates for Return to Free World

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Long-term prison inmates coming up for parole are often ill-equipped to return to the free world. A pilot program at a prison in Texas is helping these inmates transition to a life outside of prison walls.

Maria (not her real name) had not seen her son for 12 years. But the 80-year-old mother was determined to get to East Texas where her son is an inmate at the Eastham Maximum Security Prison. The only problem was how to get there from her home in California. With no other family or friends to help, she did the only thing she could do. She set out by car—alone—to arrive in time to be with her son for a unique Easter celebration.

Called the Resurrection Family Celebration, 39 Eastham inmates—each serving sentences of at least 30 years for serious crimes—and 60 of their friends and family members came together in the prison gym on the Saturday before Easter to share a meal, laugh, cry and reconnect. The celebration was part of a new pilot program that helps offenders who are one year from being eligible for parole prepare for their eventual return to the free world. Dr. Paul Carlin conducts the program, known as Criminal Recovery and Relapse Prevention (CRRP). Dr. Carlin developed the program as a way to give serious offenders the tools and support they need to thrive outside the prison environment. The program is based on Belief Therapy, a model Dr. Carlin developed that takes it’s name from the premise that people’s beliefs directly impact their actions. Dr. Carlin was recently honored with an award from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a Texas House Resolution for his prison ministry work.

“We know that to make it on the outside, these men need the help and support of family, friends and the community they’ll be returning to,” said Dr. Carlin

Dr. Carlin is also developing a separate program to help parolees better adjust to their new lives. Called Reentry Crisis Counseling™, it is a modality aimed at intervening in situations that may result in the parolee being returned to prison.


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Don Wade
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