One Touch Ministry (OTM) is dedicated to the reduction of recidivism by providing housing, food, clothing, life skills, education, and counseling to ex-offenders. As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, we strive to ensure that ex-offenders who complete the program have all the tools necessary to become law-abiding and productive members of society.
History and Overview
One Touch Ministry has been active in assisting ex-offenders to re-enter the community for the past 15 years. Since 2006, OTM has housed, referred to other organizations, or assisted over 350 ex-offenders. During that time, less than 1% committed a new felony; only 5% have returned for non-criminal parole/probation violations; and less than 1% has absconded supervision.
OTM is a faith-based program that believes: when ex-offenders have a stable housing environment, a support network, life skills/soft skills instruction, and employment search capability, they will prosper and successfully re-enter society. Other services we provide are one-on-one counseling, belief therapy counseling, random drug screening, and Bible studies. We also provide referral to outpatient drug treatment programs.
Participants are required to attend Overcomers meetings twice monthly. Overcomers is a general group session where individuals may talk about their experiences over the prior weeks, share experiences, and seek wisdom. Solutions to barriers or other problems are usually solved or eliminated through this discussion.
All these services improve the participant's behavior, minimize the likelihood of reoffending or parole violation; these combined components facilitate the ex-offender's eventual independence and successful return to his/her community. Admission into OTM is based on an assessment of the participant's comprehensive needs. All of these services are available immediately upon release, since the application process takes place during the last few weeks of incarceration.
OTM houses approximately 15 ex-offenders. Within the last three months, nine program participants have moved into their own apartments. These success stories are common for OTM, as evidenced by the minimal recidivism rate.
Staff members work closely with Probation & Parole, the Baton Rouge Police Department, EBR Sheriff's Office, and DPS&C classification officers. OTM works in partnership with dozens of local organizations, creating a referral network that meets just about every ex-offender's needs.
Post-Release Re-entry Programâ€”Changing Lives
This is a comprehensive educational and mentoring program sponsored by OTM and funded partially by the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation. The program is designed to assist ex-offenders to cope with the fundamentals of living and staying free in today's society. Participants will have a better grasp of real and essential skills, which will help them sustain an offense free life.
Coping with everyday living can be daunting for ex-offenders that have lived in a structured environment that meets all basic needs and where prison officials control even the smallest decisions. This becomes more prevalent with those that have completed long-term sentences. Nevertheless, even those that have spent just a few months behind bars or just a few nights may lack many, if not all of the essential skills associated with living a productive, tax-paying, law-abiding lifeâ€”they simply never learned how and/or had no role models to emulate.
Most times, due to these lack of skills and basic knowledge and even the lack of some kind of guidance by a caring person, ex-offenders struggle to make a life for themselves, yet eventually give up and become one of the thousands returned to prison every year.
Gary* served fifteen years in the Department of Corrections and was released last year. He had no idea that he should shut off the water after washing his hands, or turn out the light when leaving a room. These things were not his responsibility for many years. Faucets and showers were on timers that shut themselves off and lights were on all day until turned off by the "free folks" at around 10:30 p.m.
Frank* served 25 years in the Department of Corrections. When trying to put on a seatbelt, he thought something was wrong with the belt and ducked under the shoulder harness. During his incarceration, when being transported in a vehicle, he was always handcuffed, chained and shackled, yet never seat belted in with a shoulder harness. Moreover, before his incarceration, seatbelts like we have today were not common in cars.
Mark* was in prison for 13 years. He knew that the kind of work he was seeking would require steel toe boots. He went in to Wal-Mart to purchase them. Mark wandered around in the 200,000 square foot store steadily becoming more and more anxious. He was so overwhelmed by the choices offered, he could not even figure out where the shoe department was. The canteen at the prison had only one or two choices of most types of items, and there was a weekly spending limit. He was too intimidated to ask any employees or customers where the shoes were, and he left the store anxious and frustrated.
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