Applicants returning to Duval County from prison within the next year (Men only at this time) can send their letters of request to:
Prisoners of Christ
ATTN: Reentry Director
6940 Atlantic Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL, 32211
Our structured residential program seeks to provide all the necessary tools for successful transition and reentry. The process of acceptance begins when we receive a letter written by an inmate who is still incarcerated asking for help upon his release. At this time, we only accept men into the residential program. We do not accept third party requests on behalf of the inmate.
We respond by sending an application to the potential client accompanied by a letter describing our program. We request a narrative from the applicant detailing their upbringing, crimes, drug usage history, and future goals.
Once the application is received at the Prisoners of Christ office, we send a letter asking for institutional references. These are usually provided by a classification officer, a program facilitator, or a chaplain. After the references are received, a telephone interview is arranged with the classification/release officer and the client. It is during this time that a determination is made to accept or reject the applicant.
Our acceptance is not based upon the severity of the crime, or the age, nationality, or religious affiliation of the applicant. Our decision is based upon whether the person has demonstrated a willingness to participate in a structured program.
New clients are sent a letter confirming their acceptance into the program. Three days prior to their release, a call is made to the classification officer to obtain the clients’ bus arrival information. The client is picked up at the bus station by a waiting POC employee and taken to the house where he will reside. Depending on his arrival time, he is taken that day or the next to register as a felon and for supervision if applicable. Once registration is complete, he is brought to the POC office where we determine his need in regard to clothing. Each client is provided new underwear, socks and clothing for work and daily life from our on-site clothes closet.
The client then begins an orientation session. An intake assessment helps us understand each client’s physical and emotional needs. He then reads and signs a consent form, reentry services check list, client budget plan, goals sheet, independent living plan, and the residential agreement, which details the house and safety rules for POC residences. This document also states that the client’s participation is voluntary, but as long as he remains in the program he will comply with all program rules and curriculum requirements. Grievance procedures are explained to the client.
The client then receives a one-on-one class consisting of four modules from the curriculum “Thinking for a Change.” We record in writing his immediate and long-term goals and prepare a case file for the client where all required documentation is housed. POC maintains the residential client files physically and digitally for a minimum of five years.
Next, the client will receive assistance in filing for food stamps, medical and dental help if needed, and disability and Social Security benefits if eligible. Personal counseling is provided upon request. Guidance is offered regarding obtaining or reinstating driver’s licenses.
A computer is provided at the offices of POC for use by clients who desire to take an online practice test for a driver’s license.
The new client is shown how to sign up for an email address and how to obtain a government-issued phone if in need of these things.
The client then moves on to the employment phase. A resume is prepared and interview skills are taught and practiced, with special attention on how to answer the difficult incarceration related questions during an interview. Job listings are searched and resumes submitted utilizing our extensive contacts. Interviews are scheduled. Appropriate interview clothes and transportation to the interview are provided by POC.
Each client is on the “POC buddy system” until they are employed. This means that he will not be allowed to go anywhere alone, but will be accompanied by another client with proven stability in the program during this critical time.
Once employed, clients begin to pay weekly rent. Clients are required to attend a weekly POC 12-step meeting. Depending on their past, they may be required to attend a second 12-step meeting each week.
Twice monthly, each client is also required to attend a community meeting. This is a time when all the men in the residential program come together for dinner and discussion of any problems, changes, or general announcements. It is also a time for men to share good reports and victories. The positive benefits of seeing peers succeeding in transition are helpful to men working to restart their lives.
Optional Transition Services provided by POC include Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus passes supplied at no cost to the client until after they are employed and receiving pay.
All POC houses are very close to bus line routes.
Our clients are continually monitored through daily interaction, random drug testing, and review of their progress toward their goals in hopes of assuring a successful transition. Post transition housing and budgeting issues are discussed. After 6 months in the program, we conduct a formal interview with the client to find out how they are progressing toward their plan and goals. Most residential clients transition after being with us for 6-9 months.
To successfully transition, a client must have a full time job, be in compliance with all program rules, have a savings account, and secure a forwarding address. Client may have also obtained their own transportation.
Many of our clients continue to take part in the 12-step meetings and community gatherings after they leave the program. If the client allows, we maintain contact with them following their transition.
Prisoners of Christ uses several innovative paths to help transition ex-felons. Each POC house has five house mates, including 4 transitioning clients and a house manager. The House Manager is a former POC client who remains as a House Manager to help guide existing clients through questions and issues that arise in transitioning. The House Manager also serves in an accountability position within the house. He reminds clients, if needed, of the requirement to keep rooms clean, neat and ready for viewing, house sanitation, personal hygiene matters and the like. The house system is designed to create a home and family atmosphere where clients learn to live together in cooperation and consideration of others.
Clients generally share rooms, learning to share space equitably, and resolve normal daily issues, like time in the bathroom and shared closet space. All add to the foundation necessary to successfully live life in today’s society.