“Even today, religious programming is easily the most common and pervasive form of correctional rehabilitation available to prisoners” (Clear et al. 1992)

Prisoner and Aftercare Support Services (PASS) is a Christian reintegration and aftercare program for prisoners returning to the community. As a corrections-community partnership, the model follows through from pre-release services provided by chaplaincy, Prison Fellowship, Kairos, Alpha, Prison Network Ministries and other Christian initiatives that have resulted in inmates choosing to change their life and not return to crime. These inside programs are followed by a holistic 6–12 month residential post-release phase (PASS) – including ongoing support for program graduates. Apart from providing a ‘seamless’ prison-community re-entry process, a unique feature of the program is its faith and character-based approach to offender rehabilitation. The Bridge of Hope Foundation has committed to support PASS through the provision of funding, enterprises, facilities and other practical aids.


• provide offenders with an opportunity to change through personal empowerment and transformation
• disciple offenders to a mature and sustainable Christian faith
• restore offenders to their family, victims (where possible) & the community
• reduce reoffending
• introduce graduates to churches of their choice, who have been trained in care of ex offenders
• achieve excellence and leadership in correctional programming
• affect prison reform


  • based on the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, the program curriculum will be non-denominational and inclusive – to this end, people with expertise will be consulted to design and formulate the curriculum
  • the Chaplaincy  Committees and Boards of Vic and NSW are invited to help develop the curriculum
  • skilled and qualified presenters (predominantly Christians), including former prisoners wherever possible, will deliver the syllabus
  • the curriculum is a work in progress, however it will include the following components:

–          12 steps recovery program
–          substance abuse
–          cognitive skills
–          anger management
–          masculinity–sexuality
–          physical, mental, emotional health
–          life skills e.g. budgeting, cooking, parenting, public speaking
–          education (VCE equivalency through TAFE or CAE)
–          job training/placement
–          family relations / parenting
–          Christian discipleship
–          ethical and moral values
–          victim awareness and restitution
–          mentoring
–          independent living

Key features

• incorporates re-entry program best-practices
• program continuum (throughcare) from prison to the community
• post-release temporary accommodation, training and transitional support
• therapeutic program – holistic orientation
• peer driven – ‘one-on-one’ client support and accountability
• collaborative enterprise – government, faith/church-based and community organizations
• based on biblical and restorative justice principles
• entrepreneurial – social purpose / revenue raising enterprises
• built in evaluation processes


• the unsustainable economic, social, and human cost of rising imprisonment rates
• unprecedentedly high re-imprisonment rates for parolees
• inadequate rehabilitative services and transitional support for inmates
• research shows that Christian prisoners (and spiritual seekers) comprise a minority group with unmet needs
• faith-based programs are effective in other jurisdictions
• the church should provide a dedicated Christian transitional program to the ‘last and the least’ members of the community

Client eligibility

• a desire to change
• Christians and spiritual seekers
• commitment to completing the program
• medium-high risk offenders
• excludes: sex offenders
(acute) mental illness
(active) drug/alcohol addiction

Outcomes for clients

  • restoration – to themselves, God, families, society
  • overall health and wellbeing – addiction free
  • successful job placement
  • a decent home – wherever possible with family
  • restitution – to victims, families, community
  • a social support network and Christian community
  • reduced offending and re-imprisonment rates


  • 6-12 month intensive residential program providing for all clients’ needs
  • facility manager, lead tenant and volunteers + 12-15 clients
  • therapeutic community – client interdependence and peer support (role modeling), collective decision making and accountability + limited input from professional therapists
  • holistic (addressing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs)
  • educational, vocational, life-skills, mentor based
  • restitution – rectify harm caused if possible / volunteer to a community cause
  • progressive social interaction – day / weekend furloughs
  • recreational, sporting, creative, cultural activities
  • support for clients’ families, client-family mediation / reconciliation
  • job training/trades: building and carpentry, cooking, farming, computing etc
  • employer bank / partnerships with job service providers
  • self-funding business ventures e.g. landscaping, farming, construction, café, furniture removals
  • school’s and  juvenile justice program – targeting at-risk young people
  • presentations to churches and community groups, business/corporate sector
  • deploy graduates – as program staff and volunteer mentors / facilitators

 Interdependent living

  • accommodation (supported)
  • employment (supported)
  • mentor /  circle of support – a ‘tag-team’ of coordinated volunteers / church community
  • wider community networks e.g. recreational and sporting interests
  • graduates reinvest in program e.g. as mentors or volunteer workers
  • family – friendship – community


June 2009…………………. scoping out program design

September 2009………….. curriculum design

December 2009…………..  facility – location & development

Ongoing…………………… recruitment of clients (prison programs – part 1)

March 2010……………….. engage staff & orientation (community – part 2)

July 2010…………………..  client intake (community – part 2)

Future aspirations

  • modified replication of program for female prisoners and sex offenders
  • replication elsewhere inAustralia(possibly abroad)
  • precedent for possible replication of a Muslim, Buddhist, etc model
  • an adjunct to PASS and possible recruitment source, establishment of a general emergency / short-term accommodation and referral service to former prisoners who are experiencing difficulties in the community
  • along the above lines, a service to homeless people at risk of offending
  • Restorative Justice Resource Centre – providing a range of practical services to ex-prisoners and RJ initiatives including: criminological forums, research, advocacy, training, victim-offender mediation, conferencing etc

Arthur J. Bolkas   –   April 2009