Men and women who are incarcerated desperately want to have caring, positive relationships with their children.
The ARKGroup was invited by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the world's third-largest penal system (behind Russia and China) to implement the ARK for Prisons process at State Jails throughout Texas. ARK for Prisons is currently being implemented in eight Texas State Jails. The program has two goals: one is to enable prisoners to value themselves in spite of their mistakes; the second is to help prisoners build caring, responsible relationships with their children—while in prison and upon their release.
ARK in Prisons is a faith-based ministry to inmates and detainees (short-timers) that have children. It is implemented within the prison setting. ARK for Prisons is staffed by churches and volunteers from other organizations whose members receive the ARK Facilitator training and then go to the prisons to implement the Program.
ARK for Prisons participants meet once a week for 11 weeks, attending ARK groups led by the ARK Facilitators. At Dawson State Jail in Dallas, Texas (an all-female facility), they require their women to go through all the ARK for Prison lessons before they certify them ready to get their kids back once they are released!
The ARK for Prisons process combines ARK for Christian Parents materials with specially-designed lessons relevant to issues being experienced by inmates and detainees. The program avoids church/state issues by being sponsored through the prison chaplains.
ARK for Prisons has received the coveted "Texas Governor's Award for Program Excellence."
Frequently asked questions
How does the ARK for Prisons process work?
Volunteers (caring individuals or members of a church prison ministry) are trained by our staff to be facilitators in the prison setting. The volunteers must also receive a half-day of training provided by prison officials on prison protocol (proper attire in a jail setting, how to interact with the inmates, etc.).
The ARK Facilitators lead 11 weekly sessions, utilizing ARK for Prison Manuals and DVDs. Included in the lessons are "Helping Our Children Deal with Separation-Anxiety," "Dealing with Sexual Abuse," and "Reuniting with Your Child."
How effective is ARK's Prison Program?
Inmates participating in ARK for Prisons are doing so ostensibly to learn how to give unconditional love to their children upon their release from prison. Dr. Maria E. Ferris, MD, MPH at the University of Texas Medical School (Houston), pointed out that, as inmates practice the giving and receiving of unconditional love within the context of their ARK group, the self-concepts of the inmates themselves might be elevated, too. The resulting study, led by Dr. Ferris, showed an amazing 20% increase (64%-84%) in the self-concept of the adult participants in their ARK for Prison group.
A similar research performed by a Sam Houston State University doctoral candidate at Kegan State Jail (Houston, Texas) and Plane State Jail (Dayton, Texas) produced almost identical results. On a Self-Esteem scale of 0-100, the average score of inmates increased from 70 (pre-ARK) to 86 (post-ARK). While the inmates took the ARK course to learn how to give unconditional love and elevate the self-esteem of their children upon their release from prison, the research shows that the self-esteem of the adult participants is also dramatically elevated as a result of their participation in the ARK for Prison Program. The importance of this finding is enormous because in order to show love to their children, parents must first learn to love themselves.
Can I access studies on ARK's Prison Program?
See the University of Texas and the Sam Houston State University studies.
How can I find out more about ARK for Prisons?