Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 07:33 am
More than half of all prison inmates in Illinois will go back to prison within a year of being released. That’s a sobering thought, but here’s some good news: 92 percent of parolees served by Springfield-based mission Tower of Refuge stay out of prison after release. ToR starts working with prisoners between one and two years before their release, preparing them to reenter society and avoid the pitfalls that land so many others back in the clink. Started in 2005 by former Chicago gang leader Lorenzo Louden and his wife, Bevey, Tower of Refuge kept 600 parolees from going back to prison in 2011. The non-profit partners with the Illinois Department of Corrections to offer counseling, support groups, housing assistance, financial planning, computer training, health education and more. In 2009 and 2010, the mission served more than 1,200 inmates and 5,000 parolees. Bevey Louden, associate director of ToR, says the key to their success is the captive audience. “There’s a lot of work they can do on themselves while incarcerated,” Louden says. “This is an inner working. It gets to the core of why they made those decisions and how to not make them again.” Find out more on the web at www.towerofrefugeinc.com.