BREAKING THE CYCLE
Photo courtesy of Prison Fellowship
June 27, 2010
Karen Williams ’08 knew she wanted to work with a nonprofit organization to make a difference in people’s lives. She was an involved student at Cedarville — a highly successful member of the forensics team, a Cedarville Scholar, a member of the OneVoice gospel choir, and a tutor in the writing center. When she was ready to pursue a student internship, she was especially interested in an opportunity with Prison Fellowship (PF), an international outreach ministry with more than 100 affiliates worldwide.
According to the organization’s website, two thirds of released offenders will be arrested again within three years, and 52 percent will be re-incarcerated within that timeframe. PF seeks to restore humanity to the system by providing education, life skills, mentoring, counseling, and other practical tools that can restore offenders to their communities and breaking the cycle of crime.
Karen’s internship opened the door to a researching and writing position for PF. In less than a year, she was promoted to restorative justice assistant in PF's criminal justice reform arm, Justice Fellowship. Restorative justice acknowledges there is more to justice than the State prosecuting an offender. Crime harms people — the victim, the offender, and the community. Restorative justice takes its cue from Old Testament law where resolution of the conflict included restoring what (and often whom) was broken and rebuilding trust. Karen’s role includes coordinating projects and communications for Justice Fellowship, which advocates to reform the U.S. criminal justice system so it reflects biblical principles of justice and brings greater peace and security.
Breaking a cycle is not for the impatient. Success is won with deliberate, long-range plans and a series of small victories. Two major grant proposals Karen wrote were recently renewed, and she has been busy training staff at smaller prison ministry organizations on how to apply for grants. She is opening doors to material and financial resources that will change people’s lives. She knows her work makes a difference.
Karen is driven by much more than simply going to work each day. She has found a way to meet people in their darkest, most broken state and rejoice as the power of Christ transforms their lives.
Learn more about Prison Fellowship online at www.prisonfellowship.org