Supporting Second Chances: Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries helps break the cycle of incarceration
At ProBenefits, we support organizations that work hard to ensure a bright future for disadvantaged individuals in our communities. That’s why this month we are thrilled to share with you the January community spotlight, Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries. Since 1977 this organization has provided opportunities to incarcerated men and women with the hope of improving lives and one day breaking the cycle of incarceration.
Rodney Stilwell, the ministry’s Senior Chaplain, has worked with the organization since 1985. His focus is to connect with offenders and help them find their purpose, secure a job and become independent for themselves and their families.
“We want to deliver faith-based services to the staff, families and offenders in the local jail or prison,” Rodney says. “We are here to listen, to pray, to lead people to find a new life and God. We want to support them and help them make the changes they need to come to grips with and take responsibility for their actions and their lives.”
As part of one of the many family bonding events the ministry holds for the men and women they serve, a father holds his daughters’ hands in prayer before dinner.
The second goal of Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries is to provide the tools and resources necessary to lower the recidivism rate by helping previously incarcerated individuals to be successful outside of the prison system.
“Tools are a job, place to live, transportation, and someone that helps hold you accountable,” Rodney says “We feel it takes both hands, a hand with some hope in it and a hand with some tools.”
And the tools work. According to Rodney, about 40% of incarcerated individuals will reoffend within the first three years after their release in North Carolina. Of those who are a part of the Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries, only 7% will reoffend within the same amount of time.
Since its early days, the ministry has grown exponentially to help countless men and women turn their lives around and find success after incarceration. He estimates the organization now has around 1,000 volunteers, more than 100 contributing churches and approximately 40 businesses providing support or acting as sponsors.
ProBenefits is proud to be one of the many businesses that supports Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries.
“Our founder, Wes Morgan, supported Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries for as long as I can remember,” ProBenefits President Gary Knight says. “Several years ago I was approached by FJPM about ProBenefits helping to sponsor their Transition to Work program. After doing a little bit of research and learning how successful it had been in lowering recidivism rates, I was happy to continue the legacy of support that Wes began many years ago.”