Welcome to the NEW
Bridges To Life was founded in 1998 by Houstonian John Sage after the brutal murder of his sister, Marilyn, in 1993. In the wake of this tragic event, John realized the terrible toll it had taken, not only on his family's lives, but also on those of Marilyn's friends, co-workers, and the community at large. Guided by his faith, John developed the Bridges To Life program to bring crime victims into the prison system to tell their stories and share with offenders the impact of crime on their lives.
The BTL intervention emphasizes the involvement of victims, offenders, and the community in the criminal justice system. Victims "tell their story," which encourages the offenders to accept responsibility and not commit further crimes. The BTL process is based on a 14-week curriculum that utilizes the Restoring Peace book and study guide, volunteer manual, and victim speaker DVD. Victim volunteers and facilitators work with offenders in confidential small groups (two volunteers per ten offenders), exploring the topics of personal stories, faith, responsibility, accountability, confession, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restitutionThe BTL restorative justice program insures a systemic way of addressing the issue of crime as it affects victims, society, and offenders. By telling their stories in prison, victims, who many times feel alienated, afraid, and re-victimized by the criminal justice system, begin a healing process that allows for forgiveness and empowerment. Inmates, many of who have never even considered how their actions have affected their victims, their families and friends, and the larger society, hear firsthand from victims of crime and explore the concepts of accountability and responsibility. This approach addresses the very core of why people offend: anger, a lack of empathy for others, and a resistance to taking responsibility for one's own actions. Participants in the BTL process develop a sense of connection with the criminal justice process that is not typically experienced. This focus on a root cause of crime, along with the inter-connectedness of participants, provides a high-impact approach to dealing with the harm caused by crime and discourages inmates from committing future acts of crime.
Our program has continued to see a decline in the recidivism rate of our graduates. The latest three-year recidivism study of BTL graduates is very encouraging. This group represents all BTL graduates incarcerated in ID (Institutional Division) prisons and released from prison in 2012. The large and diversified sample group includes 1,174 inmates who participated in BTL in 33 different prisons. The recidivism rate for this group is 13%, measured three years after release from prison. Only 2.4% of these offenders returned to prison for committing a violent crime. Nationwide, recidivism rates are reported to have remained “largely stable since the mid-1990s, varying between 38% and 40%” (Pew Center State of Recidivism Study, 2011).
The most recent Texas report shows a recidivism rate of 21.4% (Texas Legislative Board Report, 2015). The Texas recidivism rate has reduced from 33% for inmates released in 1999 to 21.4% for inmates released in 2011. BTL is one of the programs that has contributed to an overall decrease in recidivism in Texas, and BTL graduates show a significantly lower recidivism rate than the average for the nation and for Texas (BTL is 40% below the Texas average).
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.