WASHINGTON WATCH: T.D. Jakes, The Potter's House Gives Ex-Cons Tools To Stay Out Of Prison (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH: T.D. Jakes, The Potter’s House Gives Ex-Cons Tools To Stay Out Of Prison (VIDEO)

A recent Pew study shows that more than four in ten criminal offenders will return to prison within in three years of their release. Last week, we talked with Bishop T.D. Jakes about a program at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, with a mission to give ex-cons the tools they need to reenter society.

MR. MARTIN: Welcome back.

A recent Pew study shows that more than four in ten criminal offenders will return to prison within in three years of their release. Last week, we talked with Bishop T.D. Jakes about a program at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, with a mission to give ex-cons the tools they need to reenter society.

You’re going to meet some graduates of the program in a minute; but first, here’s what Bishop Jakes had to say on Graduation Day.

[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]

BISHOP T.D. JAKES: I do know for sure that Jesus never preached in a church.

[APPLAUSE.]

BISHOP JAKES: I know for sure that he never stood behind a podium. I’m sure he’s never seen a clergy collar. I’m sure of that. I am sure that when Jesus lived out his life, he lived it out in the streets of his cities –

[APPLAUSE.]

BISHOP JAKES: — touching lives and changing people. And I’d like to think what I do is important, but I know that what we’re doing right here is extremely the work of Jesus Christ himself. If you – [claps his hands] – agree with that, put your hands together and give the Lord some praise.

[THE CONGREGATION APPLAUDS AND RISES TO ITS FEET.]

MR. MARTIN (VOICEOVER): Actor Charles Dutton was also a guest speaker.

MR. CHARLES DUTTON: You don’t get rehabilitated by getting a degree, or getting a diploma, or going to college, or learning a trade. You’ve got to be physically tired, spiritually tired, emotionally tired of going in and out of the penitentiary.

[APPLAUSE.]

MR. DUTTON: If you ain’t through with it, you ain’t through with it.

But when you are finally through with it, when you are finally through with it, then we have to recognize that and offer the kind of assistance that Potter[’s] House does. And with the success rate that they have, people should be running to support this organization.

[APPLAUSE. END OF VIDEO CLIP.]

MR. MARTIN: We’re joined now by Tina Naidoo, who heads up a program at The Potter’s House in Dallas to help former prisoners reenter society. And with her, Nathan Starr and Tiwangi Kyle, both who have been incarcerated.

Folks, welcome to “Washington Watch.”

MS. TINA NAIDOO: Thank you.

MR. NATHAN STARR: Hello, Martin.

MS. TIWANGI KYLE: Thank you.

MR. MARTIN: This program here is critically important and is one of the things that some churches are doing, but not many are doing; and that is really reaching out to folks who have been through the prison system.

So, for Tiwangi, I want to start with you. Just what did it really mean to go through this program and to realize here you have a church, a faith community, who says, “We want to give you a helping hand, a second chance to come back into society”?

MS. KYLE: Entering back into society is a very hard transition, if you don’t have the resources. You’re coming back into society lame. And I had so many type[s] of emotions that I had to deal with.

MR. MARTIN: Now, you spent five years in prison for drug sales.

Nathan, you spent seven years in jail as related to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. And so for you, what was it like? Were you afraid when you were in jail and all of a sudden saying, “Man! What’s going to happen when I get out?”

MR. STARR: I started taking a couple of college courses, because I knew that I wanted to help people who were suffering with the very thing that I had battled, which was substance abuse.

Upon being released, I connected with the TORI program, and they helped me to find employment on my tenth day out, and it was almost like a starter job.

MR. MARTIN: Unfortunately, for a lot of folks who have been in prison – folks who may have used or sold drugs, folks who may have been involved in robbery, folks who committed murder – you have folks who say, “Look, man. I’m trying to change. I want to change, but everywhere I turn, somebody is judging me based upon my past.”

MS. NAIDOO: You know, our main focus is to offer you rehabilitative services, and I think that’s what TORI does. Coming from a faith-based perspective, you know, none of us [has] room to judge.

MR. MARTIN: Okay. Well, we certainly appreciate it. And Tiwangi as well as Nathan, thank you for sharing your story.

 

And, again, we hope more churches and more nonprofits really would do something like this, because the reality is we’re putting folks in prison. They’re going to get out, and we have to ensure they’re productive members of society.

And so thank you so very much, Tina, and good job at The Potter’s House.

MS. NAIDOO: Absolutely. Thank you.

MS. KYLE: Thank you.