News and Tribune

Floyd County

July 5, 2013

LIFE AFTER PRISON: Reducing crime does pay

Local minister’s mission is to help keep offenders from returning to jail



“If we could solve our drug problem, we could solve our crime problem,” he said. “A lot of them are like burn victims. You have to touch them so they can be healed, but the touch itself is painful.”

While offering love and support, Johnson has been around long enough to know what he’s up against. A lot of the prisoners who attend his services and take part in mentoring while incarcerated don’t continue after release. However, for those who do remain, less than 20 percent reoffend, a dramatic reduction given that most statistics show 65 to 80 percent of felons typically return to prison or jail. 

“One of [the problems] is they walk out of prison and say ‘I’m out. I’m better’. We say you’re not better. You’re better off, but you’re not better. The next three years after being released are critical. That’s the red zone,” Johnson said. 

In the long term, Johnson hopes one day to open a City of Refuge. This self-sustaining community of released prisoners would be complete with onsite employment and housing, tackling some of the roadblocks recently released inmates face. 

But for now, that’s just a dream. Being chronically underfunded, the organization has never met its budget since its inception. And yet the need for its services continues to grow. 

Johnson always welcomes contributions as well as volunteers. For those interested in the organization, their website provides additional information. 

“Why should I help those people? Well, because we’re trying to reduce crime. And that’s our vision statement: reducing crime one changed life at a time,” he said.

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