Faith Based Programs

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Leonard Sipes: Hi and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety, I’m your host, Len Sipes. Today’s guest is Cedric Hendricks, Associate Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency addressing faith-based programs. Cedric, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Cedric Hendricks: Thank you, Leonard.

Leonard Sipes: What are faith-based programs as we employ them within the Washington D.C. area, Cedric?

Cedric Hendricks: At the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency we’ve developed a partnership with the faith community that has enable us to access both mentors and resources that we can use to meet the needs of our client population.

Leonard Sipes: And one of the exciting things about this is that we’re getting churches, mosques, synagogues-all sorts of faith-based organizations involved in terms of helping people as they return from the prison system, correct?

Cedric Hendricks: Well certainly that’s correct because the people that come back to us are of all faiths and certainly it is important to have multi-denominational representation and it’s been great that we’ve been successful in achieving that.

Leonard Sipes: When we’re helping these individuals coming out of the prison system and the various volunteers through these faith-based organizations as they help them, what specifically do they do?

Cedric Hendricks: First and foremost they’ve been involved in mentoring men and women who return home from prison. And mentors are essentially coaches, aides, supports, resource persons, friends; they have been for a few years meeting consistently with men and women coming home. And we found that mentoring is a help-doesn’t work in all cases, but the thing first and foremost that the mentees say is that having someone in their corner gives them hope that they never had before.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s the discussion that I’ve had with individuals who have been through the faith-based program, they credit it in many ways with helping them adjust to the difficulties. We all acknowledge that there are a myriad of difficulties when you come out of the prison system-having somebody in your corner to meet with you, to show you how to fill out an application, to help you go through the trials and tribulations, or just having somebody to talk to seem to be of immense help for many of these individuals.

Cedric Hendricks: The major challenges that I see confronting many women coming home involve housing, healthcare, education, employment, and then family reunification. And while mentors can’t help with all of those needs, it’s often the case that they can. We’ve seen examples where mentors have helped a mentee obtain furniture to furnish an apartment. We’ve seen mentors use their connections to help a mentee obtain employment. We’ve seen a lot of examples of how commitment and innovation can assist a person when they’re in dire straits, and the kind of assistance can move our clients past the point of deterioration and move them toward achieving stability.

Leonard Sipes: One of the things we have to acknowledge is first of all the faith-based community within the District of Columbia was doing this before we came along. But one of the things that we’ve discovered is that in many instances there are an array of resources that they have. And whether it be housing, whether it be healthcare, whether it be childcare, whether it be helping them find clothes for a job interview, whether it be providing drug treatment, or in some cases providing housing. A lot of the faith-based organizations-the church and the mosques in the District of Columbia, they have resources and we’re discovering those resources and taking advantage of those resources.

Cedric Hendricks: Well that is certainly the case. I think they would refer to them as their ministries. And certainly we have found over the years faith organizations that have conducted prison ministries or jail ministries have maintained a cash of clothing to provide to the needy-have programs to feed the hungry, and we’ve certainly been able to tap into those rich resources.

Leonard Sipes: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes this version of D.C. Public Safety, the radio version. For additional information on the faith-based program within the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, go to Thank you and have a great day.

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