At the Potter’s House in Dallas 109 ex-convicts graduated from a special program known as the Texas Offenders Re-entry Initiative or T.O.R.I. The offenders had completed a year-long life skills program where they had been helped by such as Bishop T.D. Jakes to transform their lives and re-enter society as useful individuals.
According to its website, T.O.R.I is committed to helping and improving the lives of people who’ve made mistakes in their pasts which make their acceptance back into society a very difficult task.
Nathan Green, one of the graduates said, “Without the TORI program I wouldn’t be here talking to you guys right now.” Green served six years for assaulting his girlfriend, the mother of one of his sons.
Another graduate, Anika Frazier who served probation for assault said, “After seeing the journey over a year and seeing everyone come together, everyone’s accomplishments, knowing we have a new beginning and start a different foundation and different path.”
A powerful speech was given by Actor-director Charles Dutton, he said, “The first time I graduated for anything in my life was in the penitentiary.” Dutton spent most of his teen life behind bars for stabbing a man to death but now, he says, his calling is to produce a play for the prison talent show.
Dutton told the graduates, “Now that you’ve gone through it. You’ve got to realize the struggle is from the cradle to the grave, so you might as well fall in love with the struggle because it’s going to be there.”
Incorporation into society is one of the most important steps in the long process of adjusting from prison life back into being a productive member of society. T.O.R.I tries to modify the thinking of those who’ve been incarcerated, many of whom have experienced serious trauma during their time in prison, sometimes resulting in mental illness.
Green and his fellow graduates took classes on parenting, anger management and also received coaching on how to get a job. They have jobs now and new expectations from society, their families and themselves. Bishop Jakes is doing exceptional work.