In January 2018 a common interest in the well-being of people returning from prisons brought Chaplain Marvin Edwards,OFS and Sr. Madeline Kavanagh, DC together by way of a combined interest in the aha Education Process known as “Getting By While Getting Out”.
A Successful application for funding from the Mission and Ministry Foundation (MMI) launched Chaplain Marvin and Sr. Madeline into the challenge of setting about formalizing efforts Marvin had already begun. Meanwhile Madeline, newly arrived in Mississippi, delved into the process of educating herself on the reality of the Correctional system and prisoners before and after incarceration.
Identifying people interested in and already serving in prison ministry along with possible sources of support was and still is a main priority.
This coupled with multiple contacts with Prison Wardens, Formation Staff, Chaplains and others in positions of authority in the correctional system laid the groundwork for beginning a program.
On May 19, 2018 a day long Prisoner Reentry Training was conducted based on the Bridges Out of Poverty Program known as GETTING AHEAD WHILE GETTING OUT. This is a reentry model that gives returning citizens a community and relationship-based approach that begins in prerelease and follows through with long-term support.
MARC THE MISSISSIPPI ASSOCIATION FOR RETURNING CITIZENS, EIN approved, provides people already working in the MS prison system, as well as returning citizens, with the tools needed to initiate an effective and long-term prison reentry program. This model is based on the GETTING AHEAD WHILE GETTING OUT REENTRY MODEL that reduces recidivism through learning, building resources, accountability and collaboration. This model can be found in the Getting Ahead Network www.gettingaheadnetwork.com
The reentry program:
- Recruits and trains facilitators to accompany groups of returning citizens for a total of 22 two hour sessions.
- Coordinates with prison staff in choosing inmates to participate in the program.
- Conducts monthly meetings that provide in-service training and ongoing programming for the core MARC membership, as well as any interested citizens.
- Coordinates with existing programs and service providers.
- Mobilizes a volunteer base to advocate for prison reform as well as provide ongoing support to returning citizens after release.
- Connects returning citizens with needed resources.
- Supports families of returning citizens with information on available resources.