Ex-Inmate, Father Bonds With Daughter Thanks To T.O.R.I. Program

The Potter's House graduates ex-prison inmates

On a Saturday afternoon, nothing brings 6-year-old Harmony happiness like a trip to the park with her cousin and her father. 

But Alex Bailey does not take moments like this for granted.

"I was locked up for 6-and-a-half years [after committing] aggravated robbery," said Bailey.

Shortly before entering prison at 20-years-old, Bailey learned he would become a father. His daughter Harmony changed a life which had spiraled out of control.

"It's taught me to be more considerate, more gentle," said Bailey. "It's not about me anymore. It's kind of illustrated through her [daughter Harmony] how precious life can be."

Bailey came home from prison on July 19, 2015. After being turned down for dozens of jobs because of his criminal record, his grandmother urged him to sign up for the Texas Offenders Re-Entry Initiative or T.O.R.I. It was started by Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House.

"People coming home from prison, they're a very forgotten people," said Tina Naidoo, T.O.R.I. executive director. "For some reason our expectation is in two weeks they should find a job. In 30 days they should have a place to live."

Participation is voluntary, not court mandated. Ex-prison inmates must complete several months of classes, including anger management, parenting and more. Many of the classes and activities begin and end with prayer.

"We get to pray with them," said Naidoo. "We get to continue to give them the message of hope but also meet their practical needs like housing, employment and education."

Family reunification is also a key goal. 

"We bring these families back together and kind of walk through things like trust issues," said Naidoo. "When you've been institutionalized and you may have went in when they were baby, and now they're teenagers or now young adults. How you do parent that child? You can't make up for lost time."

"We take anyone with a criminal background as long as its not a sexual offense, because there's a lot of ordinances that keep them out," said Naidoo.

On March 6, 2016, Bailey and 119 classmates walked across the stage at The Potter's House, having completed the T.O.R.I. program. His uncle said the program has made a difference.

"It's exciting to see progression," said Jonathan Stewart. "It's exciting to see change for the better."

Faith and fatherhood is the combination Bailey said will keep him from repeating mistakes.

"Everyone needs a second chance," said Bailey.

"God will make a way regardless of the fact. When he's for you, nobody can be against you."

Click on this sentence for a link to the T.O.R.I. program.

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