Horizon Communities Corp. is a non-profit organization founded to establish faith and character-based residential programs in prisons. The first program was established in 1999 at Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach in collaboration with the Florida Department of Corrections and the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood. Horizon is an outgrowth of Kairos Prison Ministry. Horizon programs are now active in six locations in four states. Horizon’s mission is, “to prepare prisoners to live responsibly with others.” The best reentry plan begins well before prisoners near the end of their sentences, and Horizon provides time to implement and practice new attitudes and behaviors.
The 12-month Horizon program accommodates approximately 60 participants per class. The essence of the Horizon program is building respect for self and others, and establishing a new link between the faith community and the correctional institution for rehabilitation purposes. Programs aim to increase personal and family responsibility and employability. The men maintain their regular work or education assignments, and programs take place in the evening hours. TV rooms are converted to libraries and computer labs. The program is multi-faith and participants volunteer to enter. Character-based units do not have any faith components.
Cognizant that prisons corrode the soul, Horizon recruits volunteers to facilitate programs and serve as informal mentors. These visits bring hope and begin a restoration and healing process. Training and workbooks are provided by Horizon for each program. A two-day community-building event launches the program.
MENTORING 6 months Individual weekly mentoring
“Outside Brothers” Visiting “man-to-man”, this is a form of “informal” mentoring where the best in each
volunteer becomes a visible model for those who might never have had good role models.
All meet at the same time, and each Outside Brother visits with one inmate as a friend, listening with an open heart. There is no commitment beyond the gate.
JOURNEY 5 months Small-group study, with a focus on Manhood, followed by Fatherhood.
The emphasis in this program is on finding personal values. Questions are posed to help the process of discovery within. Volunteers facilitate; meets weekly.
QUEST 7 months Volunteer- led in small groups, meets weekly
Quest focuses on anger and conflict and their resolution, on relationship and com-
munication skills. Maintaining healthy relationships is an ongoing work for everyone, but it is quite difficult for those who may have never witnessed or been around them. Family dynamics and parenting sections are included. Volunteers facilitate.
FAMILY RELATIONS Weekly letter writing to children and/or family members is a requirement.
Supplies and postage are provided. These letters help establish new linkages for many long-separated family members. One mother came to visit her son for the first time in 12 years even though she lived nearby. Grandchildren are often seen for the first time, and sons and daughters began to correspond with their incarcerated parent and begin to come for visits. A FAMILY DAY is held, and many have said, “It was the best day of my life!”
TRANSITION PLANNING Horizon brings speakers from WorkForce, county health agencies, Department of Children and Families to provide information. Horizon establishes a computer literacy lab, computer-assisted education, job skills preparation and transition planning work sheets. Inmates start with an introduction to computers using Microsoft tutorials for Windows XP and Office Applications. Graduates complete full transition plan and job skills resume using the computers. GED preparation is also provided.
SERVICE TO OTHERS
Each participant is committed to serving others. The residents live in family pods of 6 or 8, and weekly meetings are used to iron out community issues and affirm progress. Service is encouraged to those in prison who are handicapped, by reading to the visually impaired, wheelchair assistance, translation assistance, etc.
OPTIONAL HORIZON PROGRAMS
SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMS 6 months
Daily workbook series address addictive behavior. The program provides a spiritual approach to recovery and are facilitated in small groups by volunteers. Christian and non-sectarian programs are used.
FDIC “MONEY SMART” or National Endowment for Financial Literacy programs 13 weeks
The program focuses on one’s relationship to money and the basics of banks,
checking accounts, budgeting, mortgages, and savings. Learning how to develop greater financial responsibility is essential for those men about to be released.
MAKING PEACE WITH YOUR PAST 12 weeks
This program focuses on recognizing compulsive behavior, forgiveness finding release from shame, healing painful memories, and ultimately, releasing the fear of experiencing joy and the ability to receive blessings. It is a Christian program and a volunteer-led workbook series. “Houses of Healing” is used as the non-sectarian alternative.
COMPUTER SKILLS On-going
Basic and advanced life-long learning skills. Everyone has the opportunity to achieve a basic set of computer skills. Work takes place in the dormitory.
Those who do not have a high school diploma are encouraged to enroll in GED
classes or basic adult education classes as their work assignment. Academic support is provided by computer-assisted education software.
FAITH-SPECIFIC STUDIES (Where desired) 12 weeks
A faith-specific programs are available to assist in discerning God’s presence and action in our lives. “Spirituality in All Walks of Life” and The Obligation to Right the Wrong” from the Life Connections programs designed for Federal faith-based units.
KAIROS OUTSIDE (or other Family Support programs)
Support for the families of the incarcerated is a priority. Encourage attendance at a Kairos Outside weekend retreat for adult female relatives and friends of the incarcerated, wives, mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, etc. Also encouraged is the Mother of Incarcerated Sons program.