Christian Prison Resourcing (CPR)
Opportunities for a Resettlement Officer
What does a Resettlement Co-ordinator do?
Helps integrate offenders into a Christian community.
Keith is CPR’s resettlement co-ordinator. The main purpose of his work it to meet on the inside, prisoners who are approaching their release date to find a suitable church to attend on the outside. For many men who are in prison this can be a daunting task.
Twice per week (usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays) Keith draws keys from the security lockers at a local category ‘B’ prison and passes through twelve locked doors/gates to get to the chapel office where he starts his work. There he will meet with other chaplains of different Christian denominations and other faiths. Keith’s title at the prison is ‘Volunteer Free Church Chaplain’.
How is a suitable candidate for Resettlement identified?
Through Bible Study and prayer
Sometimes other chaplains will refer Keith to men they meet who might appreciate his help. Others will approach Keith on the wings when he may be visiting prisoners in their cells and ask him for help. However, by far the most successful method is through being a part of the Tuesday Bible study group. Some 15 – 24 men will gather for 2 hours in the prison chapel to study the Bible and discuss its relevance. This gives Keith the chance to explain passages of the Bible to them and encourage them to continue reading in their cells. It is also a time when prayers for the men can be offered and friendships formed. At these studies he explains the work of a ‘Resettlement Chaplain’ and men come forward to ask for a private visit in their cells to discuss their own needs.
What happens next?
A pastoral visit is arranged with the leader of the Christian community
Bringing a damaged and vulnerable inmate into contact with a suitable Christian fellowship is a delicate matter. Not all churches are equally welcoming to ex-offenders. Keith will try, wherever possible, to bring the church leader or an associate into the prison on a pastoral visit to meet with the candidate and try to establish a relationship between the church and the offender. Thus, when the prisoner is discharged and attends church for the first time there is a friendly, understanding person to welcome them.
Why go to all this trouble?
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”. Luke 19:10
Around one third of all male offenders will re-offend. This is often referred to as the ‘revolving door syndrome.’ It’s not only the offender who suffers but also families and victims. Only Jesus Christ can transform lives. We at CPR believe that if offenders can be channelled into a loving Christian family of God’s people this is the best way of turning a life of crime into a life of blessing.