God behind bars: What works to reduce recidivism.

TUMI Prison Theological Training

My initial conclusion: The TUMI program is tackling those eight criminogenic factors and transforming the lives of those who participate.

What TUMI Participants Said

  1. Education: TUMI provides a doctrinally sound seminary-level education to those who might otherwise be unable to access seminary training, and participants are prepared and equipped to pursue further higher education. “I’m in a graduate program pursuing a counseling degree,” said one participant.
  2. Employment: TUMI equips leaders for employment as pastors and church or ministry leaders, and it prepares them for other meaningful work. The majority of participants are leaders in their church and ministering to returning citizens, one is a licensed real estate agent, another has a small business making skateboards, and another is engaged in work to provide meals for those experiencing homelessness, for example.
  3. Prosocial Cognition: Participants have learned and demonstrated self-awareness, self-discipline, self-confidence, self-acceptance, self-management, and the development of healthy thinking patterns after participating in TUMI while incarcerated. “I realized I had creativity that I never knew about. I had skills, but I used them to harm myself and others and I made a lot of bad choices. Now I use my creativity for good. I have a skateboard company and I design graphics with a Gospel message,” one participant said.
  4. Prosocial Behavior: Participants described how they moved from their former lifestyle of robbing houses, selling drugs, wielding guns, and committing violent crimes against people and property, to pursuing higher education, gaining stable employment, providing meals to people who are unhoused, and actively engaging in serving those who are marginalized and underserved. “I went from robbing houses to selling houses,” said one participant who recently earned his real estate license.
  5. Prosocial Personality: Whereas participants formerly displayed patterns of impulsive, manipulative, and exploitive behaviors (“I only cared about getting whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it, from whoever I wanted it from, by any means possible…I didn’t care about anyone but myself.”), they are now able to control their impulses and they are highly motivated to serve others. One participant described how he couldn’t event walk down the street without crying now, because he sees people in need and wants to help. Another talked about how he used to steal whatever he wanted from the convenience store. Then he described a recent scenario where he witnessed a man who appeared to be homeless steal some cookies from that store. The TUMI grad paid for the cookies, and then later chastised himself for not also getting the guy some milk to wash down the cookies. “I shoulda done more for that man.”
  6. Prosocial Relationships: Before TUMI, participants recounted poor quality family relationships or association with peers who were also involved in criminal activity. A big component of the TUMI program, which goes beyond the typical “correspondence courses” that are highly available in prison, is the relationships that are formed during class interactions and beyond. “It’s the community, the relationships, the camaraderie. These guys right here in this room (referring to the TUMI graduates around the table), this is my family, and I love them very much!” Another said, “It’s a beautiful thing, this friendship, this bond we have with one another.” Another said, “I was the mischievous kid, running around and turning everyone and everything over. Now, my family comes to me for support, prayer, leadership…I’m like the pastor of the family.” They know that strong, prosocial relationships are associated with a decline in criminal behavior, and they are changing their communities.

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Researcher passionate about creating content that informs, inspires, and empowers individuals and organizations to achieve their greatest potential.

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Dr. Robin LaBarbera

Dr. Robin LaBarbera

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Researcher passionate about creating content that informs, inspires, and empowers individuals and organizations to achieve their greatest potential.