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Inmates Embrace Threshold

Faith-based program explores beliefs and improves relationships with others

Inmates embrace Threshold, a faith-based program explores beliefs and improves relationships with others

(BOP) - The Threshold Program helps inmates open the door to a life of understanding and growth. Over a period of 6 months, Chaplains assist a group of religiously and culturally diverse inmates address issues that are critical to a successful life in the community after release. Some inmates enter the program with no professed faith and others are deeply religious, but all receive guidance and instruction on many different religions and beliefs.

Lorenzo Suttles, a FCI Memphis Threshold graduate, states that "the best thing about Threshold is that it teaches the spiritual principles of change and that change is possible." Chaplain Jones, who coordinates the program at both the medium and minimum security facilities at Memphis, describes the Threshold Program and other re-entry initiatives offered by the Bureau of Prisons, as "the lifeblood" of reentry. Chaplain Jones emphasizes the critical need for staff, as well as the participating inmates, to believe change is possible.

Threshold participants learn about goal setting, relationships, journaling, and how to apply their faith to better decision making. In many cases, inmates discover a new perspective on how to treat and respect each other. Ed, a Threshold graduate and gang member at FCI Seagoville, spent the first two months of the program with his arms folded not interacting with the other participants. Slowly, he began to open up and build a rapport with the facilitator. By graduation, Ed shared that he no longer wanted to be part of a gang and commented, "I really want to change and lead my family in a different direction."

FCI Manchester Threshold participant Clarence Spear stated, "I gained a better understanding of other faiths, and now view people with an unbiased, open mind, no matter how different we are in color or beliefs." The Threshold Program, held in more than 70 institutions across the country, partners and collaborates with local faith communities and non-profit organizations in the community.