Faith-Based TV Program Finds Success in U.S. Prisons

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By Aaron Leichman, Christian Post Reporter
September 16, 2008|10:32 am

A faith-based television program dedicated to ministering hope and restoration to thousands of men and women incarcerated throughout America is gaining in popularity with correctional officials, according to the TV network behind it.

"It (the program)'s a unique tool for prisoners, one that can help bring them to a healthier level emotionally, intellectually and spiritually,” commented Amy Fihn, director of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)’s Second Chance program, in a statement. “Our goal is not only to provide help for inmates now, but to prepare them for future success when most of them will re-enter society."

As a new initiative of TBN’s worldwide family of networks, Second Chance was created to impact the nation's soaring recidivism rates – which currently average out to 70 percent nationally. The around-the-clock program serves as a companion to already-established rehabilitation programs, and was developed to meet the growing needs for cross-generational, cross-cultural, and multi-denominational television programming opportunities for inmates of all ages.

“Second Chance is thoughtful, reassuring, faith-based programming that is truly rehabilitative, helps to rebuild inmates’ lives, and reduce recidivism,” added Fihn.

The program is fully funded by TBN, the largest faith-based network in the world, and receives no funding from government taxpayer dollars. It provides up to four different channels for diverse inmate populations – along with the equipment necessary to receive them – completely free of charge to correctional and rehabilitative facilities.

Earlier this year, TBN joined forces with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) – the nation’s largest corrections management company to federal, state and local government – in order to extend Second Chance to the more than 75,000 offenders housed in CCA’s correctional centers in 19 states and the District of Columbia. CCA is currently the fifth largest corrections system in the nation.

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TBN Second Chance has also finalized agreements with officials in Texas and Florida to offer Second Chance programming in all of their state correctional facilities. And according to Alex Taylor of the Florida Department of Corrections, the timing couldn't be better.

"At a time when budgetary limitations allow for fewer program opportunities for inmates, the availability of 24 hour messages of hope is an encouragement to all who work in corrections," he told TBN.

Through Second Chance, correctional facilities can opt to receive up to four of TBN's faith-based channels including TBN, one of America’s most watched faith channels; The Church Channel, which airs church services and teaching programs from different denominations; TBN Enlace USA, which offers faith programs from Latin American countries and the U.S., all in Spanish; and JCTV, the only faith-based entertainment channel in the U.S. for 13-29 year-olds.

The selection and showing of one or more of the TBN network channels customized to reach their diverse inmate population are determined by the authorized official at each approved facility.

At the California Institution for Women in Corona, Calif., Chaplain Lois Woodard told TBN that women inmates who watch TBN frequently comment favorably on the programs and the impact it has on their lives

“[TBN] is a tool in taking them to the next level – emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, and ultimately preparing them for a successful re-entry into society,” she said.

Chaplain Yolanda Walker at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, meanwhile, described TBN as a “lifeline” for the inmates in lockdown and segregated quarters who cannot attend the chapel’s open religious services.

“TBN's inspirational programming provides daily hope and encouragement to the incarcerated women here at TPFW, a maximum security level prison," she stated, according to TBN.

According to reports, there are more than two million men and women incarcerated in America’s jails and prisons today. When all of the people incarcerated are combined with all of those on probation or parole, the U.S. correctional population exceeds seven million people, TBN Second Chance noted.

“That means one in every 32 U.S. adult residents is currently under correctional supervision,” the program organizers exclaimed.

Furthermore recidivism rates in America are on the rise, with California’s, for example, approaching 90 percent.

“The rising tide of inmates who are released from prison only to repeat their crimes is evidence enough that many of the current approaches to rehabilitate criminal behavior aren’t working,” TBN Second Chance stated.

Since its launch last year, Second Chance has been highly praised as an “excellent rehabilitation tool,” a “positive influence on the inmate population,” and “a major step toward helping to curb violence inside our institutions while enabling inmates to successfully complete their sentences.”

“TBN’s programming is … a ‘win-win’ proposition for every correctional facility,” stated Chaplain Michael Reed of the California Substance Abuse Facility/State Prison in Corcoran, Calif.

According to TBN, correctional officials in Ohio, Mississippi and South Carolina are in the process of starting up Second Chance pilot programs, while South Dakota prison officials have indicated they will now institute the program in all of their state facilities following success with TBN Second Chance in a pilot program.

For their initiative, TBN has partnered with Glorystar Satellite Systems, a leading ministry support partner for Christian TV and Radio satellite broadcasters in North America.

 

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