Working with released prisoners
Reveals their thoughts and feelings
Why we should get involved in supporting them
Challenges preconceptions, provokes to action
Practical guidance on how to help
News stories from around the world of Christians being jailed are commonplace – and we honour them for it. But what of Christians here in the UK who have spent time in prison? What kind of response should they provoke in us?
Every year, thousands of Christians are released from prison, Christians just like you and me. The only difference is that the issues they struggle with have resulted in custodial sentences. So how can we, the Church, support these brothers and sisters as they seek to re-enter society? How can we help them move forward with their faith? What unique factors do we need to be aware of and what precautions should we take?
With extensive experience in the field through working with Walk Ministries in Stoke-on-Trent, Stephen Dailly has profound insights to share into the very real difficulties that released male and female prisoners both face and present. Speaking about his book, Working with Released Prisoners, Stephen says, ‘It presents a challenge for people of God, or for churches as organisations, to become involved with the stories of people leaving prison. It examines why this is both a spiritual and a social imperative, taking Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18 as its authority.’ The tangible difference we can make to the lives of these precious sons and daughters of God is a very real way of fulfilling this biblical commission.
Exploring why we should care, Stephen describes the experiences and challenges faced by released prisoners and provides guidance on setting up a best-practice project for helping them. ‘It originated in my experience as a chaplaincy volunteer in a category B prison,’ comments Stephen, ‘watching hundreds of men whose lives had been touched by Christ released with a link to a local church, only to return to custody within a few weeks or months. While this failure isn’t entirely “our fault”, much of the Church has a blind spot for those who have offended – otherwise there would be a whole genre of books of this sort. I believe that working wisely for the restoration of offenders is an essential aspect of the gospel of Christ.’
Ray Duckworth, former director of HMP Ashfield says, ‘The book provides an invaluable understanding of the thoughts and feelings of men who have been through the criminal justice system and been ejected into society. The poignant vignettes provide us with a true understanding of what it is like for someone when they are released from prison. The honesty that the writer provides about the journey of Walk Ministries and the wisdom gleaned from many experiences are invaluable to any faith-based organisation seeking to do something to help offenders when they leave prison.’
What reviewers say:
‘Welcoming church congregations are a vital community asset that can have a powerful, redemptive influence on people coming out of prison. I’m aware of wonderful examples of lives being turned around for good from this type of ministry.’
Andrew Selous, MP
‘Working with Released Prisoners is a meticulous piece of work that is a much-needed guide for anyone who seeks to work with ex-prisoners. Having worked with the author of this book for fourteen years within the chaplaincy department, I watched as he steadfastly collated information and identified gaps in the system in order to halt the “revolving gate” lifestyle that becomes the norm for many prisoners. Working as I do with men in transition from incarceration to freedom, I feel that this book has hit the nail on the head, for forethought and wisdom. The clarity, which is the pattern throughout the writing, offers a wealth of practical, tried and tested methods that give an optimum outcome. This book is derived not only from personal experience, but also from meticulously detailed research into a subject that has haunted the writer throughout his years of working with, and caring for, ex-prisoners. His heart is in the detail. The use of Scripture throughout to illustrate the practicalities means that this is a spiritual teaching as well as being informative for the reader. The author challenges us throughout not just to be concerned for released prisoners, but to be moved to do the work the Bible teaches in difficult and challenging circumstances.’
Rev Sandie Hicks, Minister, Brightlingsea Baptist Church, Essex; former Chaplain, HMP Dovegate
Working with Released Prisoners by Stephen Dailly (ISBN: 9781909728967) is published by Instant Apostle and is available from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online retailers. Non-fiction, 320pp, £8.99.