Over the past two days, I’ve fielded dozens of emails, texts, and phone calls about the new partnership between Concordance and the South Carolina Department of Corrections that was announced early this week by many media outlets.
If you haven’t heard, Concordance is non-profit focused on reducing recidivism and they received $60 million from Wells Fargo to expand to 40 locations over the next 5 years.
I wanted to take a moment and answer some of the recurring questions I’ve been asked:
Does this mean the Department of Corrections will no longer allow other re-entry programs?
The Department of Corrections celebrates all of the re-entry programs that have had a major impact on reducing recidivism in South Carolina over the past decade. Just last week, our leadership team met with senior leaders at the Department of Corrections headquarters in Columbia to dream together about how JUMPSTART and the Dept. of Corrections can help even more men and women thrive after incarceration.
Last year, Bryan Stirling the Department of Corrections leader spoke at our Transitional Program graduation at USC Upstate. During his visit he shared with WYFF News 4 about how he shares nationally about how JUMPSTART is the model other state leaders should implement.
You can watch that news interview below. Again, the Department of Corrections is not going to stop programs like ours that have helped thousands of men and women thrive after incarceration. Concordance, like us, will not receive taxpayer funding for our mission. The separation of church and state is a good thing.
Will JUMPSTART be partnering with Concordance?
We do not know yet. This week was the first time we had heard of the organization. They are based out of Missouri, and South Carolina will be their first satellite operation.
We do seek to collaborate and learn from other organizations making a difference in the community and do not see them as competitors.
We currently have over a dozen partners in the upstate to ensure those in our program have access to medical care, dental care, clinical counseling, workforce development opportunities, higher education, financial literacy, mentoring, and more.
Is Concordance really investing $60 million in South Carolina to reduce recidivism?
No, they are investing $60 million across 40 locations nationally over the next five years. It is yet to be known how much of this funding will make its way to South Carolina and more importantly, into the direct-care services that are essential for changing lives and reducing recidivism.
South Carolina already has the lowest level of recidivism in the nation. Why did Concordance pick South Carolina as their first satellite campus?
We do not know. Some have speculated that they would want to go where there is the greatest level of current success to give themselves the greatest chance at success with their first satellite operation.
But that is only speculation.
We are hoping they can help all those in South Carolina working in the space of homelessness, criminal justice, and addiction-oriented organizations to further break cycles of crime, addiction, and poverty; because when lives that are off track experience restoration, we all win.
Does Concordance coming to the Greenville-Spartanburg area mean that JUMPSTART will no longer need to offer transitional services?
No. Concordance, according to what we've been able to find, does not offer transitional housing or transportation. They offer outpatient services. These services will undoubtably help some men and women post-release, and this is to be celebrated.
Nevertheless, many coming out of incarceration that JUMPSTART serves do not have access to transportation nor anywhere to live. Outpatient services could help them, but if they are homeless after incarceration, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get a job and get to and from that job consistently without reliable transportation.
Additionally, all the research indicates that a residential program that emphasizes relational community, accountability, and ongoing support services, has the highest level of success. JUMPSTART’s model is built on the best of social science research and theological scholarship.
JUMPSTART's Restoration Village is receiving national attention and accolades due to its continuum of care approach that integrates all evidenced based practices with a community of love, accountability, and support.
What is an important distinction that differentiates JUMPSTART from Concordance?
Our emphasis is that lasting life change comes from having a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe that re-entry preparation and re-entry support services are absolutely essential to help men and women whose lives are off track reintegrate well into the community after incarceration.
And we believe these services are most effective when centered in the life transforming truth of God’s Word. This belief that More God = Less Crime is not only believed by Christians but is backed by evidenced based research. Read here for more about this research.
I do not believe any of us should throw stones at other organizations who do not employ Christ as the indispensable ingredient in the solution. While I do believe the transformation and abundant life that Christ alone can deliver provides the best and most comprehensive solution, other organizations doing great work can make a difference in the lives of others.
Recently, JUMPSTART was recognized as a top non-profit nationally for the lifetime value we are creating for those we serve. You can see the data for this research here.
At JUMPSTART, we will continue to transform lives through intensive discipleship among the incarcerated, and by providing world-class residential transitional services to those reintegrating back into the community from incarceration. You can click here to learn more about our discipleship model.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Dr. Cary Sanders
P.S. - At JUMPSTART, we are changing the national narrative on what is possible for those involved in the criminal justice system. Let's keep our eyes on Jesus as we continue to offer world class discipleship and transitional services so that many can have a future greater than their past.