Texas pastor T.D. Jakes will be celebrating the graduation of 120 ex-offenders this Saturday at his Potter's House ministry in Dallas, Texas to mark the former prisoners' completion of a year-long program aimed at easing their transition from incarceration to the real word.
The ex-offenders have completed their 12-month intensive program through the "Texas Offenders Re-entry Initiative" (T.O.R.I.) that includes six services: employment, housing, education, family reunification, health care and spiritual guidance.
According to the T.O.R.I. website, by addressing these six services, "TORI hopes to aid and empower those formerly incarcerated to achieve successful reentry and a new lifestyle free of crime."
T.D. Jakes founded The Potter's House in 1996. The ministry has grown to one of the largest and most well-known megachurches in the United States, boasting a 17,000-person attendance.
Jakes founded the T.O.R.I. program in 2004 as a part of T.D. Jakes Ministries, and since its beginning it has served more than 9,000 formerly incarcerated individuals.
"The T.O.R.I. graduation gives former offenders the feeling of accomplishment that they don't often feel anywhere else in their lives," said Bishop Jakes in a press release.
"By giving them the tools to cope with a society that has changed since they went in and reintegrate the elements in their lives that ensure their long term progress, T.O.R.I. offers them a sense of success that overrides the desire to return to prison life for lack of 'making it work' outside that system," Jakes added.
Saturday's graduation will begin with a keynote address by Jakes, followed by the graduation and an award ceremony. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, as well as several local judges, will be in attendance.
Students Tiwangi Kyle, Jessica Vasquez and Denise Wesley will receive a scholarship from The Potter's House's First Lady, Serita Jakes. The scholarship will allow these three women to participate in "God's Leading Ladies," a nine-week sponsorship program which teaches women how to live an enriched Christian life.
According to The Potter's House, nearly 70,000 prisoners are released from the Texas prison system every year, and more than half of these prisoners return to jail within three years.
T.D. Jakes' ministry effors have caused him to receive a large amount of recent media attention. In the upcoming months, Jakes will be featured on Oprah Winfrey's interview special, "Oprah's Next Chapter."