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Our series is in some or all facilities across all 50 states! We’re impacting inmate lives all across the country, and we need your help to increase our reach! Click the link to learn more.

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We believe that the fourth purpose of prison—after retribution, incapacitation and deterrence—should be transformation.

The ever-increasing cost to society demands that we put an emphasis on transformation.

The transformative power of hope should not be extinguished in prison, it should be cultivated.

Prison should be a training ground for the formation of values and new skills.

The reconnection and reconciliation of families of prisoners can assist in a prisoner’s successful reentry into society.

People who make mistakes should not be punished for a lifetime after leaving prison, they should have a meaningful opportunity to build a new life.

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THE JOURNEY SO FAR

ABOUT OUR FOUNDER

In just over a decade and a half, Josh Smith built a small service company into a $30 million enterprise with more than 180 employees. But for a 5-year period before that, he was incarcerated in a federal prison camp in Kentucky for his involvement in marijuana and cocaine trafficking.

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THE UNITED STATES HAS

OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION.*

*ACCORDING TO THE VERA INSTITUTE.

OF THE WORLD’S INCARCERATED.

2.3M

in PRISON or JAIL in
the United States

6.6M

people directly impacted by the
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

500%

how much incarceration has
increased in the last 40 years.

THE US NOT ONLY HAS A LARGE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE INCARCERATED, BUT A SIGNIFICANT RECIDIVISM RATE (a person’s likelihood to reoffend after being released.)

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report in 2018, analyzing the post-release offending patterns of former prisoners and their involvement in criminal activity both within and outside of the state where they were imprisoned. The 2018 update on prison recidivism is based on a nine year follow-up period (2005 to 2014) which stated: 5 out of 6 state prisoners (83%) were arrested at least once within a 9-year period after their release. The new study shows a better picture of what criminal activity looks like following release than the previous study based on a 3 to 5-year measure.

State prisoners were arrested an estimated 2 million times within the nine years following release in 2005. Roughly 60% of those arrests occurred during years four through nine. You can learn more about that report here.

Despite historical incarceration numbers, recent efforts are making a difference.

An October 2020 press release from the US Department of Justice reported a decline in the US imprisonment rate with the imprisonment rate in 2019 representing a 17% decrease from 2009 and a 3% decrease from 2018, marking the 11th consecutive year that there has been a decrease. There was also a reported decline in the jail incarceration rate by 12% between 2008 to 2018, from 258 inmates per 100,000 US residents in 2008 to 226 per 100,00 in 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The total prison population in the United States fell from 1,464,400 in 2018 to 1,430,800 in 2019, representing a 2% decrease. This marked the 5th consecutive year there has been a decrease of at least 1% in the prison population. Jails also experienced a decline in total admissions, with 10.7 million admissions in 2018, a 21% decline from 2008. However, there is still a long way to go since according to estimates from the Prison Policy Initiative, it will be 2044 when the federal prison population returns to pre-mass incarceration levels and 2088 when state prison populations return to pre-mass incarceration levels.

Nonetheless, work still needs to be done.

The recent decline in imprisonment rates is largely due to evidence-based criminal justice reforms such as reexamining sentencing laws. Even though these meaningful reforms have occurred, there are still people inside prison that need life-changing experiences which give them the tools to be successful, create opportunities for a fresh start, allow them to pursue careers that interest them and reunites them with loved ones. That’s why our initiatives and focus areas aim to be a catalyst in making prison a place of transformation, changing the way America thinks about prison and its overarching purpose. Ultimately, the transformative power of hope should not be extinguished in prison, it should be cultivated.

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