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Bishop Jakes makes Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative his priority

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Never has the world seen a man of such stature call upon his family, friends and congregation to join him in helping a class of citizens who some feel deserve everything they get. Bishop Jakes has moved the proverbial mountain and in 1996 saw a need to help those individuals who were once incarcerated reenter into society with jobs and even housing. Some doubted the success of the program and even watched from a distance waiting for its demise but by faith and sheer determination the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (T.O.R.I.) program is highly sought out by judges and former convicted criminals as well.

On Sunday, March 30 judges, congressional officials and celebrity Judge Mathis converged on The Potter's House of Dallas to congratulate the graduating class of the T.O.R.I. program 2014. More than 70 individuals, whose crimes ranged from petty theft to accidental murder were in the program to reenter society in hopes of becoming a productive member of society. The yearlong program truly gives enrollees the opportunity to break the cycle of being a repeat offender and provide them with education opportunities, housing and even educational opportunities to better themselves.

Since its inception in 1996, the program has provided services for more than 5,000 formerly incarcerated individuals here in Texas. The program has also partnered with universities, employers and government agencies to ensure the success of each student.

The graduation itself was amazing because some of these individuals never got the chance to graduate from regular high school and many were reunited with their families and given homes to live in, rent free.

Two standout individuals were Laheather Wilson who accidentally murdered her child because she got drunk and forgot the child was locked in the car. Despite her remorse for harming her child, she was sentenced to jail and upon her release entered into the T.O.R.I. program. She spent most of her time still mourning the loss of her child but with the help of volunteers from the Potter's House she was able to process her pain better and was the Valedictorian of the program.

Another story that was amazing was Stephanie Clewis, who was a well educated woman who decided that she wanted to participate in white collar crimes, which included computer hacking. She had no possible reason to do so but she enjoyed the money and upon her release she made a vow to never live that life again after she lost her children. So many stories of individuals who made the wrong mistake is what makes the T.O.R.I. program successful.

For more information on the T.O.R.I. program or the volunteer or donate visit The Potter's House of Dallas.

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