Kevin Maguire, The new Program Director of the Bridge House, shares his thoughts on our New Program Model.

Hi,

       After several months of reviewing what works and what doesn’t within the Bridge House program, we have finally drawn a new line of demarcation, to be clearly marked in favor of what is called a “treatment model” displacing the (sic)”addiction model(?).” Today, we inhale deeply the wind of change, we embrace both the challenges and the advantages of a new model where empathy and listening take precedence, versus our old model where “we” gave direction and instruction to “them”.

The challenge is to get over the comfort of hearing our own voices. In the old model we knew we were doing something. But for every graduate who got something out of what we were doing — we lost too many back to drugs, the street and jail. The new model requires the resident to do the work to change their own life — guided only by loving listeners and light handed helpmates who practice deep attention to frame any advice or counsel given to empower “the other to change.”

Outside the Bridge House the new Treatment Model is gaining wider use because of its effectiveness. Inside, for us (especially as Christians), empathy and listening are vital components to displaying the subtleties and powerful virtues of our faith as Christ calls us to let His will be done “not ours”, as we faithfully encourage positive and real change in each man who enters our recovery home.

So far, the empirical data on the Treatment Model is unfolding. But, here at the Bridge House, we are encouraged by resident feedback: where to a man, the residents tell us they feel better enabled to reach their own recovery. There is a tangible sense of gratitude emanating from men, mainly because they think and feel that they now have a have a stake in their own recovery.

Not surprising, past residents tell us that what we are doing now is closer to the original program established by Jim Spence, which the state authorities tell us was once the most effective program in the Commonwealth. May God lead us to be the best program once again. We believe He is…

As once broken men gain strength and feel validated in the power of choices the new program accords; they express gratitude over acknowledgements they receive for completing each step in their recovery journey. Today, they can count on being listened to as active participants in their own life, not automatons strictly adhering to a set of arbitrary rules.

For Christ’s sake we are all set free and offered the responsibility to exercise free will. As we equip our staff with tools of listening and practicing accurate empathy, we fulfill a part of Christ’s mission presented to us, daily, hourly, minute by minute: assisting the men in becoming reconciled to God and society.

God’s Best for you,

Kevin 

 

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Despite secularization, Can Christian Values Help?

While the USA is the number one Christian nation on earth (with 85% identifying with one denomination or another), sadly we also have the highest incarceration rate on earth, as we currently jail 5 percent of our population. Nationally we have 500 per 100,000 in jail and in Massachusetts we have 213 per 100,000 behind bars.

Despite secularization, Christian values of mercy and justice are cornerstones of our penal system.  To the degree that few men who complete their court ordered sentence chose reentry programs over the street, our program serves as a compliment to the parole system. Where parole may be contingent upon the successful completion of a reentry program like ours and where the safest course of reentry for all concerned is a managed reentry that includes support services.

As one of the only reentry programs in the state willing to take those previously serving life sentences, we meet a special niche that comes with the risks of dealing with men with violent history. If we believe justice has been served in the sentence served, then when the man enters our program justice finds mercy.

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Mercy, Justice and the Line of Delineation of Parole

Few would question the need to keep serious violent offenders behind bars.  Against the vicious nature of some crimes, it is hard to understand how some criminals ever get released.  Simply put, a tight grip on who merits parole and who does not is an important safety measure for our society at large.

Short of serving out the full sentence given by the court, if a prisoner is to be released early, the parole board makes the determination. Based upon an inmate’s history, their behavior in jail and manner of petition, some decisions for early release are easier than others. But there is a line where accounting for the merit for parole is complicated by the particular criminal history that may not jive with behavior in jail, or the quality of the petition for release.

As the Bridge House of New England Aftercare Ministries, Inc. has been serving as a faith-base reentry program in Massachusetts since opening its doors in 1987, we have a vested interest in the successful revamping of the Massachusetts parole office and pray for the success of the new Parole Board Chairman, Josh Wall and his team taking on the difficult task of securing the best judgment of who merits release. We also pray that the men who are genuinely ready and willing to reform and do the hard work of reconciliation with God and society will find mercy in receiving a parole that keeps them from languishing any longer in jail cells longer than justice needs to be served.

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