Churches and religious organizations fall prey to many types of manipulation. Unfortunately, for some churches, the manipulation may be attributed to the mentality and exposure of those who were previously incarcerated or simply charged with a crime.
In Texas, considered a key state among those classified as the “Bible Belt”, churches and religious organizations fall prey to the manipulations of ex-offenders who are desperate to find food, money, work and even housing. In the state of Texas, churches and religious organizations are beginning to take note of these risks.
Texas is a state in which little is offered in terms of re-entry programs for the ex-offender. In fact, the ex-offender, especially those who are educated, are rarely offered any type of assistance in terms of housing or employment. With the criminal code in Texas providing for over 2,300 acts being classified as felonies, those who engage in criminal conduct are often left with little to hope for upon re-entry into society.
When desperate, many ex-offenders, then, turn to local churches and religious organizations in hopes of finding the resources to restore the very essential needs of food, housing and employment. With many housing management and employers refusing homes and work to felons, there is an increasingly greater number of Texas residents who are challenged to even find the resources to survive. Thus, the churches and religious organizations, who offer assistance, are not only carrying the financial burden for these church members but also fall at risk to manipulation.
Without church and religious organizations in Texas, the crime rate would be significantly higher. Because ex-offenders often turn to these organizations for assistance, without them, ex-offenders would essentially find they are not supported by any organization in Texas. While the state of Texas claims to provide re-entry programs for those on probation and parole, the fact is, they do not. Offering job training and job placement, with hopes of earning no more than $8.00 per hour, is not re-entry. At $8.00 per hour, these ex-offenders can not support themselves, let alone a family. At $8.00 per hour, food, shelter and transportation are not acquired.
If you are the leader or member of a church or religious organization, especially in the state of Texas, it is important to focus on the needs of your community members, especially those who have fallen to the wayside and are now classified as ex-offenders. Without regard to education, anyone labeled as an ex-offender in Texas, is most certainly suffering from the daily struggle to find employment and housing. Because the state of Texas does not provide the resources and support, in an effort to prevent repeat offenses, churches and religious organizations must play a lead role in accepting ex-offenders, offering assistance and guidance in career and family and even reaching out to local organizations in an effort to restore employment and housing opportunities.