Crime, Legal Related
Bridges To Life (BTL) brings healing to victims of crime, reduces recidivism among offender graduates of the program, and helps make our community a safer place. The mission of Bridges To Life is to connect communities to prisons to reduce the recidivism rate (particularly that resulting from violent crimes), reduce the number of crime victims, and enhance public safety. The spiritual mission of Bridges To Life is to minister to victims and offenders in an effort to show them the transforming power of God's love and forgiveness.
Mr. John Sage
PO BOX 570895
Houston, TX 77257-0895 USA
Prison Ministry,Restorative Justice,Forgiveness, Reconciliation Victim Healing Inmate Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation Services for Offenders (I40)
Religion Related, Spiritual Development N.E.C. (X99)
IRS Filing Requirement
This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
There are two main problems addressed by the Brides To Life program: the financial burden as well as the damage to society caused by crime. There is an obvious need to reduce recidivism, thereby reducing crime, reducing the number of victims, enhancing public safety, and saving taxpayers the massive costs of re-incarceration.
What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Bridges To Life Adult Program
The BTL intervention emphasizes the involvement of victims, offenders, and the community in the criminal justice system. Victims "tell their story," which encourages the offenders to accept responsibility and not commit further crimes. The BTL process is based on a 14-week curriculum that utilizes the Restoring Peace book and study guide, volunteer manual, and victim speaker DVD. Victim volunteers and facilitators work with offenders in confidential small groups (two volunteers per ten offenders), exploring the topics of personal stories, faith, responsibility, accountability, confession, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restitutionThe BTL restorative justice program insures a systemic way of addressing the issue of crime as it affects victims, society, and offenders. By telling their stories in prison, victims, who many times feel alienated, afraid, and re-victimized by the criminal justice system, begin a healing process that allows for forgiveness and empowerment. Inmates, many of who have never even considered how their actions have affected their victims, their families and friends, and the larger society, hear firsthand from victims of crime and explore the concepts of accountability and responsibility. This approach addresses the very core of why people offend: anger, a lack of empathy for others, and a resistance to taking responsibility for one's own actions. Participants in the BTL process develop a sense of connection with the criminal justice process that is not typically experienced. This focus on a root cause of crime, along with the inter-connectedness of participants, provides a high-impact approach to dealing with the harm caused by crime and discourages inmates from committing future acts of crime.
Bridges To Life Juvenile Program
In February of 2009, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department requested implementation of BTL in one of their facilities. Kirk Blackard, BTL board member and author of Restoring Peace and the Bridges To Life Study Guide, began work on a study guide geared toward juveniles aged 13-17. In the fall of 2009, the first BTL Juvenile Program piloted with 20 youth and four volunteers at the Harris County Youth Leadership Academy (HCLA) in Katy, Texas. This pilot proved invaluable to the continued revision of the BTL curriculum to fit the need of the juvenile offender. Since that first project, BTL has completed 22 projects in four youth facilities, and graduated over 430 youth from our 12-week program. Through feedback from volunteers, juvenile probation staff, and professionals in the field of youth psychology, we have continued to revise and edit the Study Guide and the delivery of the program, which works well in a residential youth setting.
Adolescents (13-19 years)
Where we workNew!
How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Number of program graduates
BTL is a restorative justice program that reduces crime in the community by lowering the recidivism rate of the offenders who complete our 14-week program.
Number of volunteers
BTL volunteer facilitators guide inmate participants through the curriculum. Crime victim volunteers share their stories with offender participants, putting a face on crime.
Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization
No target populations selected
The BTL program relies on the donated time of our volunteers. Facilitators give approximately 60 hours per 14-week project, guiding, listening,and providing feedback to inmate participants.
Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
How will they know if they are making progress?
What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
The Bridges To Life program has two main goals: (1) To reduce recidivism (re-offending) rates of program graduates, thereby enhancing public safety and saving taxpayer dollars; and (2) To facilitate the healing process for victims and offenders.
Bridges To Life (BTL) is a Restorative Justice process with a unique approach: it rehabilitates criminals, reduces the number of inmates who return to prison, and promotes healing for victims of crime.
Victims “tell their story," which encourage the offenders to accept responsibility and not commit further crimes. By telling their stories in prison, victims—who many times feel alienated, afraid, and re-victimized by the criminal justice system—begin a healing process that allows for forgiveness and empowerment.
Offenders, many of whom have never even considered how their actions have affected their victims, their families and friends, and the larger society, hear firsthand from victims of crime and explore the concepts of accountability, responsibility, restitution, and reconciliation. This approach addresses the very core of why people offend: anger, a lack of empathy for others, and a resistance to taking responsibility for one's own actions. For perhaps the first time in their lives, offenders are required to be active participants with a voice that is heard and given value. They are treated with respect so they can learn to respect themselves and make the necessary changes to lead a respectable life.
Bridges To Life is led by Founder and Chief Executive Officer, John Sage, and a Board of Directors that provides fiscal and practical direction. The BTL Board is comprised of nine members with established interests in social services, philanthropy, law, accounting, and business. Every board member contributes financially to BTL, assists with fundraising efforts, and provides in-prison volunteer service. Several members provide legal and business-related advice and counsel, and all provide the social and spiritual support needed for BTL staff and volunteers to fulfill the mission of the organization. Mr. Sage leads a staff consisting of a Chief Operating Officer, Development Director, Communications Coordinator, eleven full-time Regional Coordinators, one of whom is also the Program Director, and three part-time Regional Coordinators. The Regional Coordinators typically manage BTL projects in four prison units located within two hours of their home. This role involves many tasks including, but not limited to, recruiting and training volunteers and working with the prison staff to coordinate the implementation of our program inside the units.
BTL continues to successfully carry out its mission with the cooperation and partnership of numerous community agencies, faith-based organizations, and government entities. Since its inception, Bridges To Life has worked in close collaboration with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to provide a grassroots solution that reduces recidivism and makes communities safer.
Bridges To Life also works closely with the Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department to implement projects in two women's alternative facilities in Houston (the Women Helping Ourselves programs at Atascocita and Santa Maria Hostel), and with the leadership of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department to conduct our juvenile program. BTL also partners with CitySquare and The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) in Houston and Dallas, utilizing a slightly modified version of its core curriculum to serve residents seeking counseling and addiction-related services.
BTL is a steady source of referrals for The WorkFaith Connection, SER–Jobs for Progress, One Man's Treasure, and Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). These re-entry partnerships allow BTL to expand resources offered to offender participants, providing them with opportunities for education, training, and employment-related services that will aid them in successfully reintegrating into their incarcerated youth. We are currently working in collaboration with The WorkFaith Connection and SER to provide services to our offender participants after release from prison, and recently began a pilot project with The Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center in Houston. In addition to TDCJ, Bridges To Life staff works with numerous community-based agencies, faith-based organizations, faith communities, and government entities.
The Bridges To Life program has two main goals: (1) to reduce recidivism rates of program graduates, thereby enhancing public safety and saving taxpayer dollars; and (2) to facilitate the healing process for both victims and offenders.
Both of these program goals are long-term and far reaching. The reduction in the rate of recidivism among BTL graduates means that not only are our communities safer because there is less crime, but also that our prisons are safer. In fact, we have been told by prison personnel that the Bridges To Life program and other volunteer programs have actually begun to transform the attitudes of offenders and staff in our prisons, resulting in less violence within the prison walls. Furthermore, a reduction in crime means a reduction in victims of crime in our communities.
Both quantitative (data and statistics) and qualitative (reports from program participants) are used to evaluate the achievement of Bridges To Life's goals.
The latest three-year recidivism study of BTL graduates consists of a large and diversified sample group from 35 ID (Institutional Division) prisons. Among the 2,403 offender graduates released in 2012 and 2013, the recidivism rate measured three years after release is 14.5%. Of these, only 2.5% returned to prison for committing a violent crime. Nationwide, recidivism rates are reported to have remained “largely stable since the mid-1990s, varying between 38% and 40%" (Pew Center State of Recidivism Study, 2011).
Statewide, the most recent Texas recidivism rate has reduced from 33% for inmates released in 1999 to 21.2% for inmates released in 2012 and 2013 (Texas Legislative Board Report, 2016). Bridges To Life is one of the programs that has contributed to an overall decrease in recidivism in Texas, and BTL graduates show a recidivism rate 32% below the Texas average.
The economic impact of crime is profound as well. The cost to the taxpayer to incarcerate an offender in a Texas prison over the average sentence is approximately $100,550 (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2016, Henrichson & Delaney, 2012), and that is in addition to the significant costs incurred at the county level, such as arrest and jail prior to incarceration. On top of those expenses, there are significant social costs. A recent study finds that incarceration reduces post-release employment and wages, increases take-up of food stamps, decreases likelihood of marriage and increases the likelihood of divorce. Based on changes in defendant behavior alone, the study estimates that a one-year prison term for marginal defendants conservatively generates $56,200 to $66,800 in social costs.
In 2016 we provided services to over 5,100 offenders at a cost below $220 per graduate. In 2017, we plan to graduate 5,600 inmates from our 14-week program. If even 5% of those inmates did not return to prison due to the impact of participating in BTL, the benefit to Texas taxpayers would equate to $28,154,000 savings in incarceration costs, not to mention significant other short-term and long-term costs to society.
BTL has worked in over 140 prisons and alternative facilities, and its curriculum has been used in 11 other states and five foreign countries. Based on the reduction in recidivism rates, the increase in public safety, and multiple costs listed above, BTL is saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year.
Bridges To Life
Need more info on this nonprofit?
The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.
as of 10/17/2018
Mr. Edward Davis Jr.
Retired, Shell Oil Co.
Juniper Capital, LP
Don H. Haley
Real Estate Investor
Retired CEO, El Paso Electric
Bridges To Life
Richard C. Seltzer Law Firm
Cushman & Wakefield
Gay Van Osdall
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?
Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?
Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?
Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?
Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?