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Faith-based program hits milestone at Wildwood

Alpha turns 1

Posted: April 12, 2012 - 7:22am  |  Updated: April 12, 2012 - 9:42am

A faith-based program aimed at keeping criminal offenders from re-entering the prison system recently celebrated its first anniversary, but developing and implementing that program hasn't been easy, an official said.

Jack Cowley, National Director of the Christian-based Alpha USA program, spoke Wednesday at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce's luncheon. Cowley discussed Alpha -- a program charged with reducing recidivism among the program's graduates outside -- and its past, present and future.

The state was influenced to start a Central Peninsula program based on the recidivism reduction results from Alpha's first program located near Houston, Texas. That program experienced a major difference between program graduates and the general inmate population: 8 percent versus 67 percent re-entry into the prison system, respectively.

Planning for implementation of the program locally was difficult, taking five years. Life-skills are taught along with Christian values during the program, but Wildwood lacks other options for offenders.

The program has 18 spots available for inmates. Cowley said he hopes the program grows to double that size.

As the first program of its kind in Alaska, Alpha at Wildwood still is evaluating overall impact on offenders' lives. In 2011, a total of 12 people graduated and two of them re-offended for a recidivism rate of 16 percent. The average recidivism for the general inmate population is 70 percent.

"Our first graduate (Sonny Thompson) had a spider web on the side of his face... he was a perfect example of a convict," Cowley said. "He had been out of prison for no longer than eight months for years and years.

"Soldotna Parish worked with him, adopted him, and he is doing great."

Thompson resides in Atlanta, Georgia and works in the construction industry.

Using the analogy of future-cigarette packages including graphic warning labels, Cowley lamented that there is no push to stop all smoking -- or crime. Cops, judges and lawyers would be out of work, he said.

A negative consequence, however, is the population grows accustomed to having offenders and crime victims in their communities.

So, as long as prisoners continue to re-enter society the program will aid in acclimating them to practicing healthy lifestyles, Cowley said.

"I think it's harder to be in the program (than in the general inmate population)," he said. "When someone is in prison we expect them to act like a convict. The bar is raised, and they're expected to act like a moral, normal person."

Cowley retired from the State Oklahoma Department of Corrections with 30 years of service before becoming the director of Alpha USA. He said the program has been criticized as being soft on crime, but he disagrees.

"It's not soft on crime. It's big on public safety," he said.

Inmates with long-term sentences and serious crimes often are chosen for the program. They do not receive early release for graduating from the program.

Miraculous transformation through faith is possible, but it's rare, Cowley said. A small number of the program's inmates also are enrolled in substance abuse treatment.

Residential substance abuse treatment (RSAT) is not available at Wildwood. The RSAT program available to male inmates is located in Hudson, Colo. Wildwood has a 90-day, less intensive program.

All inmates who have need of substance abuse treatment are eligible for the program. Admission priority is given to inmates with a higher risk assessment and those who are close to their release dates, Richard F. Schmitz, DOC communications special assistant, said in an email.

After probation and parole violation, the top booked offenses at Wildwood are second-degree theft and third- and fourth-degree assault, according to data provided by DOC.

The majority of these crimes on the Central Peninsula involve alcohol or drugs, according to local law enforcement officials.

In 2010, the 90-day program replaced Wildwood's therapeutic community; an alternative justice model in which a collaborative court team made up of a supervising judge, district attorney, defense counsel, probation officer or substance abuse or mental health treatment provider, oversees and closely monitors participants who chose the treatment program in lieu of incarceration.

A study conducted by Alaska Judicial Council and the Institute for Social and Economic Research released in March found felons in therapeutic community programs or substance abuse programs appeared to have benefited from participation. All participants had lower re-arrest rates and reconviction rates than other offenders, the study found.

Cowley said he believes the Alpha program offers a full, cognitive approach to reform.

"Life skills, coping with problems... these are the things we teach," he said. "Just finding Jesus in and of themselves doesn't work."

The next step involves community involvement. Housing is needed, and business owners can hire ex-offenders, Cowley said.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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Watchman on the Wall
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Watchman on the Wall 04/19/12 - 06:51 pm
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You do err wings

Well maybe you do err. I am not a watcher as in fallen angels in Genesis 6; i am continually watching for the Lords return for his bride any day now, though, so i guess i am sort of a watcher. I am a watchman as well looking for signs of troubles which show that his return for his bride is very near, while at the same time trying to sound the alarm to warn fellow humans that the Beginning is nearer now.

Yes Jesus never said that he was God. How ever the scriptures show in John 1:1-4 that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God and that Jesus as God created everything and in him is the life and the life is the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehends it not.
The scriptures also continually show that Jesus is God and that false prophets will continually say that he is not the Christ and that there are many ways to God other than thru him.
Jesus warned of this in Mt. 24:4-5, Mk 13:21-23, it's also in 2 Jn 7, about false christs and those that say Jesus is not from God or God come in the flesh.

Also 1 Jn 4:1-6, 5:11-12 shows that many false prophets or antichrists are already in the world and if they don't confess Jesus they are not from God.

Time is short as we see the close of the 2nd day since Christ death, burial and resurrection 1979 yrs ago this past April 5th-8th. Christ, God told Israel in Hosea 6:1-2 that after two days of being scattered that God would revive the Jews and on the 3rd day they would sit in his sight and be ruled by him for 1000 yrs to close out 7000 yrs of history for mankind on earth. Basically 1000 yrs for every day of creation or 7 days.
2 Peter 3:3-9 also shows that mockers will come saying that Jesus isn't ever coming back, but Peter assures us that God is patient not wanting any to perish and that 1 day with the Lord is as 1000 yrs. 2 Peter 3:10-12 shows that this evil world will be burned as by fire before the New heaven and earth are created.

Have a Gr8 evening and keep looking up as Titus 2:13 says for all that know Jesus as our blessed hope to be looking for the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. OOPS!! there is that thing about Jesus being our God and Savior again that many refuse to accept or believe.
One day soon everything will become alot clearer for all.

Jeremiah 6:17

wings
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wings 04/19/12 - 09:36 pm
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Name it whatever you wish ... the energy remains the same

I read a lot. I am well aware of the fallen angels in which you speak. You see them as angels of god, but I see them as aliens from a different star system, and some may even be our ancestors as well. We are all children in comparison. Sir, we have already grown worlds apart in our thinking here as you can read. My mind is open for expanse, but you seem to be caught up in “Jesus the man” syndrome, and not “Jesus the teacher,” as it should be known.

John 1:1-4
Verse 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Verse 2. The same (Word) was in the beginning with God.

Verse 3. All things were made by him (God) and without him (God) was not any thing made that was made.

Verse 4. In him (God) was life; and the life was the light of men. (God made man, gave man the celestial fire -plasma- of life)

Watchcloserman ... Jesus was not in those verses anywhere.

Apparently you’ve never read the Earth Chronicles, by Zecharia Sitchin, but, even if you did your cemented brain would not digest what is being said in any book but for your version of the bible. The bible was written by many, compliled and edited many times in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, etc. However, it NEVER said, in John 1: 1-4 what you said it did, you made that up ... “and that Jesus as God created everything.” Why did you add that to the scriptures? The scriptures do not continually show that “Jesus is God,” as a matter of fact, Jesus refers to God as his FATHER. We all should. That would make Jesus your brother ... that, “where I am, you may also be,” could be the euphoric feeling one gets when they adore the Jesus consciousness. We are all God come in the flesh ... we are all miracles of the Creator of ALL THINGS, INCLUDING JESUS.

Why should I believe any thing you have to say further? Do you not think the inmates are as smart as you and I? We are talking about teaching the religion of Jesus (Christianity) to the jailhouse inmates, are we not? Tell them to write it the way they want ... you have.

There is only ONE TRUTH, ONE LOVE, and ONE POINT OF LIGHT.

We can't pretend to have the answers even if we have personally found the light we were seeking. We then become the false prophets we abhor, even though for YOU (and others) it is the truth.

"One day soon everything will become alot clearer for all."

Watchman on the Wall
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Watchman on the Wall 04/20/12 - 09:40 am
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Thanks wings for the insight

Wings i also read other books and manuscripts. I am not as well read as you appear, i do try to learn from many differant sources tho as i go down this road of life learning more each day. I don't have all the answers, in fact i don't even have all the questions. But i do know in whom i have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which i have commited unto him against that day.
I also believe that there are other life forms that we call aliens, but i call them fallen angels, angels masquerading in many forms to deceive humans. It does amaze me that many think that what is on earth as life forms is all that there is out there in the vast never ending universes created by God.

As many societies, 89+ i have read some where which have foretold of this year of 2012 being the End of an Era, Age or dispensation of time to close out 6000 yrs from creation of man and what we see on earth. These societies have warned that the ancient gods will return to reestablish their kingdom on earth. The vatican in Rome has also stated last year that these aleins are do to return and help save earth from total distruction any day now.
The Great deseption is about to spring forth any day now with the disappearance of millions of trouble makers and WWIII is also about to start which will usher in that world savior that will promise to help save the earth if only we will accept his rule and total control of everything.
Avatars are coming to help save earth and mother earth worshippers from those that cause trouble, as in christians.
I did not add anything only read that He, Him are refering to the Word and the Light which is Jesus.

At any rate thanks for the insight and the book title and as we both have said, "One day soon everything will become alot clearer for all." Then we will know the True light which will judge the false light and reward/judge everyone else for what we have believed or not believed in reguard to Jesus the Christ and what he said. Everyday more Bible prophecies come true and show that many more are about to be unveiled for this the End of the age as Mt 24;, Mk 13; and Luke 21; shows. The prophetic clock is ticking ever closer to that appointed Day of the LORD.

1 John 5:11-12 about the son being life and giving eternal life and he who has the son has that life and he who does not have the son does not have the life as being correct and true as far as i am concerned when i read it and my little unlearned brain agrees with my heart that it is true.
So i guess that the scriptures are correct again when they say that the simple minded children, not very smart people like me can comprehend Gods salvation and plans where smart people can't or wont accept what is truth. Romans 1:18-32 talks about smart people who reject God and his plans.

Have a GR8 day and keep looking for more truth, as i also will.

Jeremiah 6:17

wings
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wings 04/20/12 - 12:26 pm
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One Truth ... LOVE

It’s good for souls to understand prayer works, but you have not met Jesus or God face to face unless you have loved someone or something deeply and thoroughly with all your heart. I’m certainly not trying to discredit your beliefs, so just to keep things in perspective here, try to understand human emotions and feelings belong to everyone (including the Planet, the kingdom of Nature), we must step outside the box to see the big picture.

Perhaps you’re not as well read as I am but that really isn’t important. What is important is what humans feel inside, how we react and treat each other, not what we read. Reading the same words can (and usually do) have different meanings for each and every human being ... unless it’s the Law of Physics, of course. Logic. Logos. That’s what the “Fallen Angels” brought to Earth. BUT, they brought it hundreds of thousands of years ago, not 6000 (there’s documented proof of mans Adamic creation), long before the era of the bible.

The Hopi (FIRST PEOPLE) believe Planet Earth has lived through four rebirthings already. That it has a life of its own, and that this is the end of the fourth life, and the beginning of the fifth. I suppose you think the Hopi fit into your category of “smart” or “simple” somehow too (I’m sure you can find a scripture to answer with), but I doubt the Hopi would mind what you think. They know “Jesus” another way.

Of course, the Planet will be cleansed before it begins again, and that’s where we come in (or out), depending on what happens after we cross the center of the Milky Way. Your guess is as good as mine since it hasn't happened yet. God hasn’t explained to me exactly what will happen next, but I figure that “light” is always right.

I’m pretty sure everything is gonna be different than it is today ... maybe that’s why our world has gone mad of late, with all the killing, mayhem, destruction of species, global depopulation, space race, Secret Societies and governments being exposed ... all believing money can somehow save their day. Ain’t that retarded?

Have you noticed those who follow this “divine” theory of salvation also believe in war? Do you think Jesus would pick up a gun? I think peace means peace, not war. Then again, using my logic, and knowing that the universe rules with positive and negative forces, can’t work without that fusion factor ... makes me wonder if negative (chaos, evil-Devil) needs the positive (order, good-God) just to exist, and visa-versa. Everything in the Universe works on positive and negative neutrons, right? OK, is that so hard to understand? Should I be sorry I’m smart? I was born this way. What should I do to be dumb so I can see God the way you do?

PS: this was yours, "One day soon everything will become alot clearer for all." I just agreed.

wings
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wings 04/20/12 - 01:09 pm
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One small clarification ...

Watchman said, "Then we will know the True light which will judge the false light and reward/judge everyone else for what we have believed or not believed in reguard to Jesus the Christ and what he said"

You are not privy to Jesus and his teachings. Anyone can read them and follow them. Free will can be a gift or a curse. We don't need churches to give us understanding ... we only need the WORD, WHICH WAS WITH GOD, WHICH IS GOD. I totally agree with his teachings and try to follow them the best I can, but none of us are perfect ... or, we all are. Free Will = you decide.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
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Watchman on the Wall 04/20/12 - 01:35 pm
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Ever heard of Pascal's wager?

Prtayer is the Most Powerful tool that man has been given by a loving God. And i do understand human emotions and beliefs and how they can be manipulated by this worlds evil rulers and the powers of spiritual forces in high places.
These powers are manipulating this present world and leading sheeple down the wrong road as people like the Hopi Indians and others world wide show in their ancient drawings & writtings of two roads towards immortality. One road is good, the other is bad, but everyone must make a choice as to which road they will take.

I was not born smart or presented the opportunity as a child to become so. When i came to the knowledge of Christs salvation in 1978 at the age of 26 after searching the Catholic, Mormon and JW religions i could hardly read or spell and still have to use the dictionary non stop to help. I have hardly any knowledge of punctuation from my continually moving from school to school, but am learning as i go on. Not until i was forced to retire did i even start to get involved with this tool or blogging. Many things i still don't know on how this tool works that is a GR8 aid for searching out info on any topic and answers are given in seconds, answers which one must also search out to whether true or false.
I do try to learn from many sources though and do appreciate others ideas or opinions on many things about the history of Creation and things we see from the many recorded history writtings.
Take for instance the many unsolved sites around the world that show that there were out of this world beings that built them, as nothing mankind has today could build or create the differant temples or seekingly airport run ways in South America alone. Take the knowledge of the stars and the mathamatics of all Creation and how these ancient societies knew & understood them. It's like the ancient book of Enos, Enoch which shows that Enoch was taken into a flying house and shown all the creation of God and told of the coming differant judgements for earth and mankind as well as the fallen angels that corrupted Gods plans and gave mankind many hidden secrets for acts of war and manipulation Gods creation.
The writtings of Flavius Josephus are also a very good read, and on they go with too much knowledge to ever obtain it all about Gods plans if they were written down.

As for me i guess i will just stick with Pascal's wager concerning my salvation by Christ Jesus' sacrificial death as the only way.
Every person has to work out their own salvation in fear and trimbling. As pointed out their are many supposed ways to God, but are there really many ways? As the ancient drawings and writtings point out there only seems to be two roads in which to choose from, and one of them is wrong, but we all must make our own choice and pray for the best i guess.

Jeremiah 6:17

wings
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wings 04/20/12 - 02:30 pm
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All Bets are OFF

You did not have to give me a testimonial of your life, I understand where you are coming from. You are a good man who has not had an easy childhood, which helped contribute to your lack of a good education. I say you are good because of the words you write. My apologies for correcting your spelling failures. Rest assured, bad spelling does not affect the points you are trying to make.

I had to look up Pascal's Wager. All bets are off. Some things are beyond man's comprehension. I'm satisfied with that or anything else pertaining to God.

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