A total of 97 ex-convicts graduated from a life-skills program in Dallas Sunday morning. They spent a year in the Texas Offender Reentry Initiative or TORI which is put on by The Potter’s House church, based in Dallas.
The crimes the participants committed led most of them to prison. Their commitment to transformation led them to church and this program.
Mother of two, Stephanie Clewis served two years in prison for fraud. After that she got two jobs in the restaurant business but was still looking for some guidance when she found the TORI program.
“Once you go to TORI they embrace you,” said Clewis. “You feel the love and it’s more one on one contact. They’re looking at you for not your flaws but where you’re trying to go in life.”
TV judge Greg Mathis who was in and out of jail as a teen in Detroit, told the graduates they may have disadvantages in life but said not to use them as excuses for screwing up.
“We must commit ourselves to fight back against the destructive culture and demonic forces that threaten and sometimes causes us to destroy ourselves, our families and our communities,” said Mathis.
Marcus Molden-Bey got probation for theft. He says that’s not going to happen again.
”I’m definitely not the man I used to be,” said Molden-Bey. “I definitely am more comfortable understanding the past so the future looks a lot brighter versus when I started with the program I was not owning up to my past and what bad mistakes I’ve done in the past.”
Statistics show about two-thirds of former prisoners return to prison within three years.
Of the hundreds who’ve graduated from the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative which has now been around nine years, the Potter’s House says nine out of ten graduates have stayed out of trouble.