WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – People who have served time in prison sometimes struggle to find support once they are released. Many end up back in the criminal justice system.
Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministries works to reduce recidivism by providing spiritual support and resources for a better future.
“In North Carolina, somebody coming out of incarceration is about 40-45% likely to repeat offend and end up back in incarceration,” Executive Director Mark Hogsed said. “Our Transition to Work Program graduates, we’re grateful that that recidivism rate drops to about 7%.”
The nonprofit has two full-time chaplains who are available day or night for people currently incarcerated in Forsyth County.
Edward Cabral credits his faith with connecting him with Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministries while he was still behind bars. He served multiple separate sentences over the past 25 years but says mentoring he received put him on the right path.
“I’ve never been loved in my life like these people at the Cherry Street ministry,” Cabral said.
The ministries’ Transition to Work Program works with offenders for months after they serve their sentence. Program Director Ebony Hicks helps them secure housing and get a handle on finances. She says a big part of finding success is finding employment, but that often comes with challenges.
“Transportation is a hard thing to come by when you’re coming out of prison and you want to work and you want to be the best employee you can be. But it’s really stressful when you don’t know how you’re going to get back and forth to work,” Hicks said.
A grant from The Winston-Salem Foundation has allowed Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministries to provide transportation to ex-offenders. Hometown Auto and Credit in Winston-Salem also makes donations. Matthew Cates, the reconditioning manager at the business, is among the employees who make sure they have a reliable ride.
“Most of the time the cars that we get are trade-ins or from the auction itself. We do look over the cars, make sure they are safe and they pass North Carolina state inspection. If they need tires, windshield wipers- usually we cover those.”
To learn more about the Transition to Work Program, and other programs Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministries offers to ex-offenders or to make a donation, visit their website.