The first goal is to determine how effective this program is in reducing recidivism. Plans are being made to track the inmates upon release and issue reports as to how many or what percent are re-incarcerated. Eoncouragement comes from comments made by wardens and judges in Louisiana. One district state judge in Louisiana said that since putting the program in one prison, only one of the 80 offenders who went through the program in five years returned to prison.
The second goal is to change the prison culture. Neither free world people nor the prison system can change the culture in our nation’s prisons. Only the inmates themselves can change it, but we can provide some of the tools necessary to accomplishing that. This program is one of those tools. This website is one of those tools. What has been learned from 3 years of listening to members speeches is the depth and understanding they display of the problems concerning our society. One young African-American male presented a tremendous speech concerning the erroneous attitudes of young males as to how they regard women. Another young man, in his speech about the abandonment of his family by his father, gave what we believe was the exact approach and understanding any child should have when confronted with that situation. We plan to have both of these speeches on our website. The members also present intelligent, cogent talks concerning the prison issues they face. The idea is that over time, all of these talks will be available on the Internet, allowing people with a heart for Toastmasters and prison ministry to download the talks (free of charge), and take them into other units so those inmates can hear solutions to their problems from people in their situation. On our website, under GET INVOLVED, there is a video that can be downloaded of a Toastmasters meeting done by the inmates in 2001. People in prison ministry can then take the DVD or videotape into their particular unit and inmates will see people they can relate to, discussing common problems. This can create a desire for them to have their own club. Having started their own clubs, eventually volunteers can videotape their speeches and send them to us for posting on our website. This is the start of building a positive and healthier culture within the prisons.
The third goal is to get other people involved. For others to become involved requires a program which will educate, motivate and support others. Motivation requires education but education alone is not enough. Those who choose to become educated must then be supported. As a first step, Skills For Life people speak to church groups, service organizations and civic clubs within a 100 mile radius of Houston. The current schedule allows for morning meetings 7 days a week and any time on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. If you would like a program, please contact us by email at [email protected].