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National Criminal Justice month program to feature award-winning actor/author and social advocate Hill Harper as special keynote speaker

DALLAS (February 26, 2016) – In Bishop T.D. Jakes’ latest film, Miracles from Heaven, the global spiritual 2015-07-27-1437963819-2884618-RayLewis_TORIgraduation_July2015leader, movie producer and best-selling author helps shine a light on how individuals can move beyond their current situation into a higher level of purpose after life-changing circumstances occur. The Texas Offender Reentry Initiative (T.O.R.I.), is one such example in action.

Since 2004, more than 10,000 ex-offenders have successfully completed the one-year program that gives them the tools and knowledge to successfully reintegrate back into society and remain crime-free.  Each year, Bishop T.D. Jakes hosts a graduation service replete with cap and gown and all of the pomp and circumstance typically associated with life’s significant passages for those successfully completing the curriculum.  Held during service at The Potter’s House, this year’s celebration will take place on Sunday, March 6 at 9 a.m. (CST).

NAACP Image Award® winner, Actor and Author of “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother,” Renowned Social Commentator, Hill Harper will serve as the ceremony’s keynote speaker as more than 120 T.O.R.I. graduates receive diplomas from County judges and elected officials as a visual demarcation that they are entering into the next stage of their recovery.  Upon walking across the stage, Harper will gift each graduate will a personalized copy of his aforementioned 2013 bestseller.

“An individual isn’t simply rehabilitated by completing a course,” remarked Bishop Jakes. “As individuals graduate from one stage of life to the next, it’s imperative to equip people to continue on their journey and not be bound by what’s in our past.”

The unique model which T.O.R.I. implements has resulted in invaluable insights shared with many of the leading authorities within our nation’s justice system.  The program has risen to a level of national prominence that has resulted in a partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice whereby reentry training and information is shared with leaders across the country along with invitations from the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives to participate in the 2016 National Prison Summit on Mass Incarceration in October.

T.O.R.I. focuses on key areas of rehabilitation that lead to more sustainable success: employment, housing, education, family reunification, health care and spiritual guidance.  With one of the largest prison populations in the United States, Texas spends $60 a day to incarcerate an individual, though rehabilitation through T.O.R.I. only costs $4 per day.

Recent recidivism rates show that sixty-seven percent of former prisoners will be re-incarcerated within three years of their release—but The Potter’s House is working to decrease that number. The T.O.R.I. program’s recidivism rate is at eleven percent. The five-city initiative has been successful in reducing the rate of relapse from substance and alcohol abuse by 50 percent and employing 63 percent of the clients enrolled in the program.

Programs like T.O.R.I. will become even more critical as the preponderance of the nearly 6,600 exonerated federal offenders that the administration will release will likely resettle in Texas.

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