Over the last two and a half years, Mike Swiger and the entire True Freedom Ministries team have worked tirelessly to launch True Freedom Enterprises, a non-profit organization dedicated solely to prisoner workforce empowerment and transitional housing. This is a separate and independent tax-exempt organization from True Freedom Ministries. One facet of this new outreach consists of a pre-release, pre-employment training program where inmates during their last year of incarceration will leave the institution under True Freedom’s watchful eye and apprenticed in private-sector jobs.
On March 1st, we officially launched this new initiative at the Northeast Reintegration Center, a female prison located on East 30th in Cleveland. We did more than transport seven women from the prison to the cafe at the Virgil Brown building, we restored honor and dignity to lives that have broken. After six months working at this location, they will graduate to the Marble Room, where they will continue their culinary training for an additional 90 days at one of the nation’s premier restaurants. We are so thankful for the generosity of Frank and Malisse Sinito and for their willingness to give our clients a second chance.
This program will give these returning citizens a legitimate opportunity to locate gainful employment by providing:
• Gain real-world work experience prior to release
• Gain transferable skills and certifications to increase their human capital
• Receive job evaluations and job referrals from employers that can be used to secure post- release employment
• Gain access to re-entry resources to reduce financial barriers to reintegration
According to a May 2016 Harvard White Paper, using data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) as part of the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP), ten thousand state and federal prisoners are released nationally every week. Sixty-seven percent are re-arrested within three years, and seventy–five percent are still unemployed after one year. In Cleveland alone, three thousand inmates are released every year, and twenty-five hundred are unemployed after one year. Of that 2,500 unemployed, 90% return to prison. This initiative is designed to dramatically reduce these numbers, which in turn will create safer communities all across Ohio.
We praise the Lord for His kindness in giving us the privilege to start this one-of-a-kind program in Ohio.