CR Inside Newsletter

The blog for CR Inside. Much talk about all things CR Inside...

Celebrate Recovery Inside has come to Belize Prison!

By Elda Bankman

January of 2016, I made a transition back to Belize after being involved in CR Inside for 9 years in Ontario, Canada.  I was born and raised in Belize. One of the many things I had a passion for growing up, was when I passed the Belize prison I wished that once I grew up I could bring hope into the prison.

In order to be effective and to empower the inmates, I needed to go through a journey of healing from my own hurts, habits, and hang ups. I am so excited that God opened the door for me to take CR Inside to Belize Prison. These women are part of my family. One woman, especially was in the punishment cell more than not. I notice that she is present more when I come in. She said that she tries to stay out of trouble when I come because she wants to see me. She has no family and I am her only family. Psalm 68:6 "God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing." Amazing!

I have anywhere from 30 to 40 women. I do CR Inside both in Spanish and English.  The women are on lock down every day from 3pm to 9am. They have not seen the moon since their arrest. The CEO said that they fail the women because their restorative is being on lock down. So they are very open for me to bring in any programs. The women are sponges and want to take in everything which is so exciting and I feel honored to be a part in empowering and bringing hope to them. I love these women so much!

A prayer request that I would like to ask for, the discernment with spiritual welfare! The verse below has become more real to me.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV): For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


E.W.C.C. in Taft, OK Graduates Over 80 Women

On May 22 over 80 women at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, OK celebrated their recovery by graduating from their 12 Step Study groups held each Sunday at the facility. Volunteers from several churches around Eastern Oklahoma spent each Sunday afternoon from September, 2015 through May, 2016 traveling to the facility to take Celebrate Recovery Inside to the ladies, and providing them the tools to overcome their hurts, habits, and hang-ups through the 8 Principles and 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery.

The worship band Blue Chip Friday from Celerate Recovery at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK traveled to the facility on Sunday afternoon to lead the women graduating, volunteers, and guests in a time of woship to help them celebrate their accomplishment. During the graduation ceremony, a video from Christian recording artist Josh Wilson was played (click here to watch) to allow him to personally congratulate all of the ladies on their graduation, and then several members of the graduating class performed for those in attendance by signing to the Josh Wilson song ‘No More’ which was a huge hit and very special memory for everyone attending.

   

After the time of praise and worship, each participant graduating was presented with a certificate to mark their accomplishment, as well as a Celebrate Recovery Bible to help them continue in their quest for knowledge of God and His will for their lives. God was definitely smiling down on everyone in attendance and all who were there were blessed to be a part of such a memorable moment in these ladies lives!

The program at E.W.C.C. has been in existence for several years, with many volunteers sacrificing themselves each Sunday afternoon from early fall through late spring each year to bring the message of hope and healing of Celebrate Recovery to the Inside to help these ladies find a new life and freedom from their past. Many thanks go out to the volunteers who give of themselves selflessly each week year after year to provide this program at E.W.C.C. and to all of the volunteers at all of the facilities across the United States and around the world who give of themselves for our incarcerated brothers and sisters in Christ.

To God be the Glory!


New CRI Program Coming To B-Facility

Below is a letter from Joe Stewart, Correctional Captain, B-Facility at California State Prison-Sacramento ( a Level IV Maximum Security facility) to his Lieutenants on his belief in the CR Inside program and it’s proven ability to change lives at SCC and Folsom State Prison in California, and his plan to add the CR Inside program to the faith based opportunities at California State Prison – Sacramento.


From: "Stewart, Joe@CDCR"
Date: April 8, 2016 at 10:06:30 AM PDT
Subject: New CRI Program Coming To B-Facility

Lieutenants,

Great Story in the OPEC newsletter today, (link below).

http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2016/04/former-life-term-offenders-try-to-get-parolees-to-make-healthier-choices/

Definitely part of my motivation for the Celebrate Recovery Inside (CRI) Program, and it’s power to change lives.

This program has been operating at SCC and next door at FSP for several years now...

It has won numerous awards like the one below from the State Legislature in 2014 for its success in greatly reducing recidivism.

Currently FSP’s program has a 100% success rate with none of the released participants returning to custody...

Certificate-of-recognition-CRI

After meeting a gentleman named Terry a few weeks ago, and hearing his story of serving 27 years in Ca. Prisons as a Life-Term Offender, Terry was incarcerated for a homicide he committed as a youth, and never thought he would ever be released. CRI changed his life at SCC and FSP and helped him begin motivating and encouraging other inmates to change their lives. After being released from FSP a few years ago, he is now a volunteer and mentor of the CRI program continuing to invest in other people.

I’m honored to announce that Capt. Riley and I are working with a local CRI program in El Dorado Co., along with Therese our CRM, to bring a CRI program to B-Facility.

Of course Terry will not be able to physically participate at this point, but Mike and Mavis Mante are the coordinators of the program and will be leading the weekly meetings.

I can only imagine there will be a similar story about Terry’s life and this CRI program at CSP-SAC to share in the newsletter someday.

This program will be held in the evenings (likely Mon. or Tue.) and more information regarding the specific times and locations will be forth coming.

This program has an evidence based approach to changing the environment of a correctional facility, giving inmates an alternate perspective to violence.

Most of our Life-Term offenders have to participate in a Substance Abuse Program (SAP), like this in order to be considered for release during their BPT hearings.

I know many people believe this type of impact and success cannot be achieved at a Level IV, Maximum Security Prison, but we disagree with that theory...

I know you and your staff will all provide the CRI Volunteers with all of the support they need to facilitate these weekly meetings.

Have a great weekend everyone...

Joe Stewart

Correctional Captain, B-Facility 

California State Prison-Sacramento

clip_image001


Unspoken Performs at Maine State Prison



By Gerald Boguhn, CR Inside State Rep Maine

Recently the Maine State Prison had some musical visitors who blessed the inmates in the medium security wing of the prison. Those visitors were the Christian contemporary band Unspoken. A great group of guys who’s popularity is only rivaled by their humbleness. They came in to visit, play an acoustic set of songs and share testimonies.

The event was put together very quickly in January of this year, and was up in the air until a few days prior to their appearance. Due to their concert schedule, time constraints and prison policies, nothing was for sure until the last minute. But in the end, God was faithful and a wonderful event for the inmates was made possible.

It started in early January of 2015 as I was looking through upcoming concerts I could attend. I saw that Unspoken was coming in concert and I knew of them not just due their popularity and radio air play. I was very familiar with them through their ties to Maine, several calling Maine home. I got the idea that a CR Inside concert might be a possibility due to the location of one of their concerts at Waldoboro Baptist Church in Waldoboro, ME being only 30 minutes from the Maine State Prison. This is also the church home of one of our CR Inside volunteers. I contacted the band by Facebook explaining that I was the Maine State Celebrate Recovery Inside Representative and asked if they would be interested in visiting The State Prison to play for the inmates. They responded with a definite yes, if they could fit it in to their schedule. I soon came to find out that they had volunteered to appear for Celebrate Recovery before and soon also discovered the reason why. Unspoken first came together after Chad Mattson met guitarist Mike Gomez on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic. Chad had been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction for years and decided to go on a mission trip to re-build his relationship with God. It was there in the Dominican Republic where Chad’s eyes were opened and he came to know Christ in a powerful way.

After Mike moved to Chad’s hometown in Maine, the two began playing music together, and performing live shows. Bass player Jon Lowry and drummer Ariel Munoz from Puerto Rico later joined the band and Unspoken was born. Chad credits Christ with his recovery. This is evident in one of my favorite songs they perform called “My Recovery” (Watch the video below). So after about a month of back and forth messaging we were able to work out all the details and the visit was able to happen.

Unspoken arrived at the Maine State Prison around 12:30 PM on Sunday January 25, 2015 to come in and minister to the men and staff with an acoustic set as well as testimonials. They were greeted by Chaplain Kevin Fortier as well as leaders from several ministries to include Kandyce Powell from Maine Hospice Counsel in the front lobby. Once inside of the facility, the men from Unspoken were greeted again by several men from within the community and Chad shared some testimonies from his own life which touched everyone in the room. Unspoken introduced themselves, played several songs such as 'The Good Fight’, 'Bury the Workman' and others. Unspoken was very well received by everyone. Ariel the drummer offered to give his 'kickbox' to the men, Chad also offered to give some CD’s to the facility. Chaplain Fortier received these as blessings and gave them to the men. (Note: He picked these items up at the First Baptist Church in Waldoboro a little later on as they needed the kick box drum for the evening concert, and they did not have the CD’s with them there.)

Unspoken gave more than a concert event, they brought hope into the prison as they shared testimony, time, and gave of themselves just talking and listening to the men at Maine State Prison. They stayed longer than they thought they could, but were blessed by an acoustic song from some of the men at Maine State Prison who used the kick box as well as an acoustic guitar and everyone sang and were joyful. It was a real blessing to just to hear from Unspoken, and see that there is hope and healing that comes from Jesus Christ. Chad shared many testimonies and also went into the Gospel to read and share from the Word.

There was a time of Question and Answer where people could ask questions of the band members. There was also a time after the 'set' where the members of the band just met with as many people as possible, and where the men at Maine State Prison expressed their thanks to Unspoken for coming in.

This was a tremendous blessing to everyone and the men from Unspoken seemed equally blessed also. And to top it off it appears as if they would like to come again in the future. The event was truly a showing that God lives and works in the prisons and jails shining light into darkness. It also showed the humbleness of true Christ followers as Unspoken truly are.

Special thanks goes out to Unspoken for coming to share their time and talent with the men of Maine State Prison, and to Chaplain Kevin Fortier for his huge contribution to this article and awesome support for CR Inside and our team. Thanks also to our friends from Straight Ahead Ministries for their hard work and co-ministering at the Maine State Prison. Last but not least, a huge thank you to our Lord God for this amazing blessing!

Unspoken - My Recovery


Sussex Correctional Institution Graduation–Dec. 10, 2014

By Rev. Vince Valva – Ministry Leader

A first in the State of Delaware!!! On Dec. 10, 2014, we graduated 29 inmates from our CR Inside long-program at Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, DE. How did this happen? It’s an amazing story! A new Chaplain, Rory Russell replaced the recently retired Chaplain. All volunteer programs were suspended for three months for review of effectiveness and need. We were requested to define our program (God’s Way To Recovery, Inc.) in writing and defend its continuance with measurable parameters. We had been running the GWR program for seventeen years in the Boot Camp which was not a part of the Chapel program. After submitting the defense of our program, the Chaplain asked that we bring it to the Chapel as well.

For approximately one year, we ran the GWR program in both venues. During this time, the Chaplain wanted something more to reduce the recidivism rate. He felt the inmates had an ample number of Bible studies, services & preaching, but they were still re-entering at an unacceptable rate. I was leading Celebrate Recovery at our church & suggested he consider it for the Chapel. The Chaplain reviewed the four Participant Guides & after considerable discussion, he embraced the CR-Inside Program. I presented him with a detailed schedule including “Home Run the Movie,” “Words,” “Three Doors” & Paul’s testimony-Vol. 5 followed by the 25 Lessons interspersed with testimonies on tape. We concluded with a graduation ceremony, presentation of completion certificates & a graduate’s live testimony.

This is an amazing story because God was intimately involved in the entire process! Approaching eighty four years of age, I was attempting to minimize my involvement in the Boot Camp Prison Ministry & I was making good progress. About that time the new Chaplain came on board & with both the Boot Camp & Chapel I needed to delay my plans. When Celebrate Recovery entered the picture, I was required to re-double my effort in the Chapel since I was the only one of nine volunteers with CR experience. We truly needed God’s help to get this off the ground. I committed us to achieve a great deal & truly believed God was in this & He would provide the resources to bring it to a successful completion. I was counting on using some of our Boot Camp volunteers as well as seeking new volunteers for the CR program. Surprisingly, the Prison Boot Camp Program was summarily eliminated so all of these volunteers became immediately available & one new volunteer with CR experience also came on board. Hallelujah, God did it!!

Now that we had the bodies, we undertook a crash training course for all volunteers. It was minimal training, but most of these men had been teaching or preaching or counseling for years; I knew them & trusted them. We plunged in to the CR-Inside Program immediately after the training & the rest is history.

The Inmates enthusiastically embraced the worship, lessons & testimonies. They answered the questions & participated in Small Group discussion with intensity & interest. Though struggling with trust, they eventually opened-up enough in Small Group to achieve desired purposes. Enthusiasm was maintained throughout the 25 lessons & 36 weeks it took to complete the program. Sixty inmates started & twenty nine completed the program. Six have submitted written testimonies; three have delivered their testimonies before the group.

The second running of CR-Inside has already begun. Fifty new inmates have signed-up, plus 8 trained inmate leaders, plus 6 trained inmate sponsors for a total class of 64 inmates. We lost 4 volunteer leaders so that we now have 5 volunteer leaders & are seeking new volunteers. Lesson 1 “Denial” was taught last week so, with God’s help, we are on our way again!!

Afterthought:

Two difficulties were encountered in running the CR-Inside Program.

1. Space – We broke into four groups all meeting in the Chapel. While separated as effectively as possible, the noise level was high enough to be disturbing to all making hearing difficult at times.

2. Volunteer Leaders - Two Leaders were assigned to each group, I was the alternate. Invariably one and often two of the Leaders could not show up for various valid reasons. Consequently, I filled in as an alternate approximately 85% of the time.


Westville Correctional Facility Graduations - 2014

By Michael Higgins – CR Inside Leader
Westville Graduation-May 2014

Here are 2 photos of 2 different graduation classes of the CR Inside program at the Westville Correctional Facility in Westville, IN this year. (All graduates are not in the photos at the request of the inmates.) The Celebrate Recovery Inside program is part of the ‘Plus Program’ at this facility. The first photo is of the class that graduated in early May of 2014. The second photo is of the class that graduated November 4, 2014. The facility allows us 26 weeks for each class, and we are excited to hear that a graduate of an earlier class has started an inmate led CR Inside in another section of the facility.

I asked the last class what they were expecting before they came to the class. One inmate responded, "I was expecting another cookie cutter recovery program." I asked what he meant to which he replied, "Almost all the recovery programs are run the same." I asked him "How are we different?" He replied, "Your program is very different, tying all of those scriptures from the bible to your lessons. And having those live testimonies from former inmates have been a big help.

Westville Graduation-Nov 2014

Another inmate said, "The testimonies from former inmates has seemed to have broken a barrier of hope with the outside."

Yet another inmate said, "I felt that the video testimonies were a big help for me."

Another inmate said he came to the class without an addiction but he feels the program has helped him grow spiritually.

I can personally testify that I have seen some major changes to the men that have come to these classes. Not always right away, but the truth sometimes comes to them later.

I would like to thank Greg Demass for being our Chaplin during the inventory phase, and my brother Dan Higgins for being there to keep the program running. I also wish to thank all the people who gave up their time to come in to share their testimonies during these classes.

Michael Higgins
CR Inside Leader