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Reducing Homelessness and Crime

Updated: Sep 27, 2023


Introduction


As the prison doors swing open, the challenges awaiting released prisoners often appear insurmountable, none more pressing than securing a stable place to call home. Rooted in a profound sense of community and belonging, JUMPSTART extends a lifeline to individuals teetering on the precipice of homelessness upon their release. Through a comprehensive approach, JUMPSTART is mitigating homelessness and crime head-on, providing solutions backed by research and a fifteen-year track record of results.


JUMPSTART’s Role in Reducing Homelessness


One of the primary obstacles faced by released prisoners is securing stable housing. JUMPSTART addresses this issue through its holistic transitional ministry. Grounded in creating a sense of community and belonging, JUMPSTART assists individuals in their post-incarceration journey, often serving men and women who would be homeless the day of their release without JUMPSTART.


Without housing assistance, it is estimated that approximately 10% of prisoners will experience homelessness as soon as the day of their release (1).


Research indicates that most former prisoners reside, at least initially, with family members after release, and a substantial minority also return initially to transitional housing, work release centers, or temporary emergency shelters (2).


Obtaining and maintaining a safe place to live is important as researchers consistently find that released prisoners without stable housing are much more likely to return to prison (3).


Providing safe and secure housing to returning prisoners is also a critical link to other services such as substance use or mental health treatment and employment (4).


The reality of reentry is that at least half of released prisoners return to their old neighborhood or to a similarly disadvantaged community with high crime rates and few services and support systems to promote successful reintegration into the community (5).


Dr. Bryon Johnson, who is recognized by many to be a leading scholar on criminal justice reform, says this in his book More God, Less Crime, “Just because an inmate makes a profession of faith does not change the fact that he or she will struggle to find stable employment, acceptable housing, adequate transportation, and supportive family members. Because of these and other reentry difficulties, it is only a matter of time before many ex-prisoners return to prison" (6).


Over the past eight years, over 200 men and women have completed the inside and outside phases of JUMPSTART and are living as examples of God’s ability to rescue and restore. Providing safe and affordable housing and all of the wrap-around services mentioned thus far are foundational for these successful outcomes. More than a few from the program have even become the first person in their immediate family to become homeowners!




JUMPSTART’s Impact on Crime Reduction


JUMPSTART’s continuum of care approach targets recidivism at its roots. By providing comprehensive support during and after imprisonment, JUMPSTART helps ex-offenders avoid returning to crime, ultimately improving public safety.


JUMPSTART cultivates spiritual and personal transformation within prisons, targeting the root causes of criminal behavior. This proactive approach aims to deter individuals from reoffending and fosters a commitment to personal growth.


In addition to these spiritual programs, JUMPSTART offers holistic reentry services, mental health services, substance abuse programs, employment resources, and life skills training. These services empower ex-offenders with the skills needed to reintegrate successfully into society and significantly reduce the likelihood of reoffending.


The Efficacy of JUMPSTART’s Approach: A Research Perspective


Multiple studies validate the effectiveness of organizations like JUMPSTART. For instance, the Pew Center on the States' report found that states offering comprehensive reentry programs experienced a substantial decrease in recidivism rates compared to those without such programs (Pew Center on the States, 2011). Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation suggested that programs grounded in spirituality considerably reduced the risk of ex-prisoners reoffending (Johnson, 2019).


These findings are mirrored in JUMPSTART’s impressive success rates, with the organization reporting decreased recidivism rates and increased societal reintegration success among its program participants.


Conclusion


JUMPSTART demonstrates the power of an integrated, comprehensive approach to prisoner rehabilitation and reentry. By addressing ex-offenders' spiritual, emotional, and practical needs, the organization mitigates homelessness and reduces recidivism rates.


JUMPSTART’s work is a testament to the old adage, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." JUMPSTART doesn't merely offer temporary fixes but provides ex-offenders with the support and tools they need to build sustainable, crime-free lives after release. JUMPSTART's work contributes to creating a safer, more compassionate society, offering a beacon of hope for those affected by incarceration.



If you want to help reduce homeless and crime and provide men and women with transformational opportunities in South Carolina, I'd encourage you to learn more about Restoration Village - a neighborhood where love, accountability, and transformational opportunities are the standard. You can learn more here.


Written by: Dr. Cary Sanders on August 15, 2023


References:

(1) Greg A. Greenberg, and Robert A. Rosenheck, “Homelessness in the state and federal prison population” Criminal Justice and Mental Health, (2008): 88–103.

(2) Valerie A. Clark, The Effect of Community Context and Post-Release Housing Placements on Recidivism. (St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Corrections: 2015).

(3) Benjamin Steiner, Matthew D. Makarios, and Lawrence F. Travis, “Examining the effects of residential situations and residential mobility on offender recidivism,” Crime & Delinquency, 61 (2015): 375–401.

(4) Caterina G. Roman, and Jeremy Travis, “Where will I sleep tomorrow? Housing, homelessness, and the returning prisoner.” Housing Policy Debate, 17 (2015): 389–418.

(5) Jeremy Travis, Bruce Western, and Steve Redburn (eds.), The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2011), 23.

(6) Byron R. Johnson, “The Faith Factor and Prisoner Reentry.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 4 (January): 1–21.


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