vs. Prison Consulting,
By Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
I’ve read a number of articles lately about prison consultants and prison coaches. Most of those articles have not been particularly favorable. I understand. After my designation in 2006 to Federal prison at Allenwood Low FCI for a white-collar crime, I rushed out to hire a prison consultant too. I paid him a lot of money, and he delivered nothing he promised. In our ministry, I’ve since met some very reputable prison coaches (notable examples: Walt Pavlo, Jack Donson, Justin Paperny, Michael Santos among others), but unfortunately there are yet others who lack any real skills or dedication to helping others.
After I was released from prison in 2007, I took a different path. I decided to dedicate my life to serving people who were suffering in silence, undergoing the same kinds of incarceration-related issues that had affected my family. I set out to become one of the most knowledgeable and credentialed experts in the country.
Over the next few years, I ran recovery and reentry groups at a rehab and at a men’s residential diversion facility. I earned a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in NYC with a focus in Christian Social Ethics. I was called to an inner city church in Bridgeport, CT, where I served as Assoc. Minister and Director of Prison Ministries. I was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of several prisoner reentry nonprofits. My wife Lynn Springer and I then founded, in Greenwich, CT, the first Ministries in the country created to provide confidential religious/spiritual support and consulting to people with white-collar and other nonviolent incarceration issues and their families before – during and upon reentry from prison.
In the 10+ years we’ve been working with people and families before, during & upon reentry from prison, this is our simple conclusion: those who engage in a spiritual transformation do much better than those who do not.
When asked the difference between a prison minister and a prison consultant, my first response is always the same… It’s about God. Or at least, it’s about your own perception of God, higher power or divinity. This is hard stuff. We were in isolation for the longest time, afraid to face the truth of our lives, what we were doing, and what we had done. Now, we have a large and growing spiritual community of people who have been through these things from whom we can all learn, grow and evolve into the person God intends us to be. It’s about dropping the rock and finding a new freedom.
WHAT WE DO
We shepherd people and families all the way through the process, to a new and better life and family dynamic on the other side of prison. We do direct pastoral care in person, by phone/ Skype/ FaceTime, by email (many Federal prisons now have email), and by mail.
As clergy, our communications and counseling are strictly confidential. For this reason, we are often the first people that families call when they are ready to end their isolation and reach out for help. This is also a major reason that many attorneys allow their clients to maintain relationships with us.
Utilizing our professional backgrounds and real world experience in religion, law, business, reentry, recovery, family work, ethics, and advocacy, we are the only ministry in the country created and equipped to guide people and families though this difficult time.
Direct counseling, readiness & preparedness ministering:
To people accused or convicted of white-collar and other nonviolent crimes, to help them survive, transform & succeed before, during & upon return from prison.
To the families throughout the process.
Boards. We are on the Boards of Directors of the two largest nonprofits in Connecticut dedicated to families affected by issues of incarceration, Community Partners in Action and Family ReEntry. In New York City, we are on the Board of Healing Communities Network. We are also on the Editorial Board of the book & movement, The Justice Imperative (CT), and on the advisory boards of The Phoenix Association (CT) and Creative Projects Group (Los Angeles, CA).
Speaking engagements. We have spoken at some of the most important and influential venues in the United States, including The Nantucket Project
, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (Hartford, CT), Greenwich Leadership Forum (http://www.greenwichleadershipforum.org/sermon/jeff-grant-video/), Correctional Ministries & Chaplains Assoc. Conference (Wheaton College, IL), Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary, churches, prisons and community reentry programs, etc.
Sermons. We often preach and speak at churches and other houses of worship.
Media. Articles about our ministry have appeared in Forbes.com, HedgeFund Intelligence, New York Magazine, Fairfield County Business Journal, Weston Magazine Group, etc.
Blog. We edit and curate one of the most widely read and respected criminal justice blogs in the country, Prisonist.org. We are also the co-Online Editor for The Justice Imperative blog and the Malta Justice Initiative blog.
Social media. We are a major presence advocating for criminal justice reform on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linked In, Pinterest, etc.
All this we bring to help guide you and your family through its spiritual journey to a safe and secure life on the other side of prison.
We are grateful for donations from individuals, religious groups, charities, foundations and the like. Donations can be made by credit card/PayPal via the “Donate” link in the sidebar of prisonist.org, or by sending your check payable to: “Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.” P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883. Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project are missions of Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. We are a CT Religious Corp. with 501c3 status – all donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Thank you for your support and generosity.
If transformation and salvation matter to you, a friend or a family member in need, please contact us and we will promptly send you an information package by mail, email or via Dropbox. Learn why the darkest days of a person’s life need not lead to the end of that life. Redemption and walking in the light have their own timetables.
Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
Jim Gabal, Development
Babz Rawls Ivy, Media Contact
We are grateful for donations from individuals, religious groups, charities, foundations and the like. Donations can be made by credit card/PayPal or by sending your check payable to: “Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.” P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883. Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project are missions of Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. We are a CT Religious Corp. with 501c3 status – all donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Thank you for your support and generosity.
Jeff, as always, I am grateful to be able to refer families to you as your personal experience coupled with your spiritual approach brings a full spectrum of care and understanding to the white collar experience and the hope of transformation.
Your life & what you are doing with it are an inspiration to many including myself. Your encouragement & great advise propelled my mission to help released inmates to new heights. IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT G'D!!!