TD Jakes is not only one of the most influential pastors in our day and age, but a real social justice advocate. Prison reform has been on the top of the Potters House outreach initiatives for over ten years. Jakes felt a call to help former inmates acquire jobs as a desperate need in the state of Texas.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson teamed up with Jakes at the fundraiser for the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative. The program also called T.O.R.I. was founded in 2005 by Jakes to help give the almost 70,000 incarcerated people release in Texas each year, a second chance. “If a guy gets out of prison and he can’t get a place to stay because every application locks him out of a rental, much less ownership, he can’t get a loan and he can’t get a job, where else can he go except back to prison?” Jakes declared.
The National Institute of Justice states that within three years of release 67.8 percent of prisoners were rearrested. Jakes and Stephenson spoke to 900 Texas business, non-profits and government leaders in hopes of having these offices hire former inmates. AT&T currently has a program that helps former prisoners, acquires work at call centers, that is in works to expand to other cities.
This is something to be admired, as a person who has had family members go to prison. I can attest first hand how hard it is for them to reintegrate into society. They do not have the same opportunities as most and are often judged aggressively because of their past behaviors. The word of God encourages us to forgive (Matthew 6:14) and receive our brothers back when they have fallen into sin and are trying to overcome. Pastor Jakes and Stephenson have tapped into a heart of justice that many often overlook.