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The mission of Bridges To Life (BTL) is to connect communities to the prisons in an effort to reduce the recidivism rate, particularly that resulting from violent crimes, and thereby effect a consequent reduction in the number of crime victims and enhanced public safety.
The spiritual mission of Bridges To Life is to minister to victims and offenders in an effort to show them the transforming power of God’s love and forgiveness.
Based on the principals of Restorative Justice, the BTL program takes crime victims into the prison system with the intent of reducing crime in the community and reducing the recidivism of the offenders who complete the program. BTL accomplishes its goal of empowering victims and rehabilitating inmates by educating offenders about the impact that their actions have had, not only on their families, but also on the families of the victims, their friends, and the community at large.
The Bridges To Life program utilizes an intensive, 14-week process during which victim volunteers and offenders are brought together along with a facilitator. To meet the program’s objective of providing a safe environment for offender and victim, a small group format is utilized that emphasizes confidentiality and compassion.
The weekly sessions focus on topics that include: 1) understanding the effects of crime and the relationship between offenders an victims; 2) understanding the importance of faith and stories in the healing process; 3) understanding responsibility and accountability after an offense; 4) understanding the importance of confession, repentance and forgiveness after an offense; and 5) understanding the importance of reconciliation and restitution after an offense and actually participate in symbolic restitution. The groups are facilitated with the aid of a training manual and study guide, which offer opportunity for learning, growth and reflection.
- Melissa Simon
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