Rebuilding and Reconciling

The HOPE Pre-Release Program is an inter-faith, faith-based, rehabilitative program for minimum- and medium-security inmates that works in collaboration with key community service providers and volunteers to empower incarcerated individuals to restore their relationship with their God, rebuild their lives, and reconcile to their communities.

Each year, about 30,000 people are arrested and brought to the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh. The jail’s population – generally between 2,500-2700 on a daily basis – is growing. Of those in the general jail population, a significant number will return (or recidivate). This recidivism is primarily due to the fact that, once released, inmates face incredible obstacles in overcoming or avoiding the factors that contributed to their crime in the first place. Many inmates return to the lifestyles, communities, and loved ones who may have influenced their crime.

pre-release-inset-graph-finalNationally, 44.1% of inmates will recidivate within one year of being released. This comes at a high cost. According to a study published by the University of Pittsburgh, each inmate’s incarceration, on average, costs $43,662.00 per year. The HOPE Pre-Release Program is effective in lowering this cost with a one-year recidivism rate for graduates of 21%.

Over an eight week period, HOPE Pre-Release participants meet for more than 120 hours of group work, requiring full participation and the passing of a final exam. Any inmate, regardless of ethnic background, age, or religion, can be enrolled in the program.

The program addresses:

  • Addiction and Recovery
  • Anger Management
  • Confronting “Stinking Thinking”
  • Life Skills
  • Parenting
  • Release and Reintegration
  • Spiritual Development


pods-of-hopeParticipants live together in community in HOPE Pods (4E for the women and 2C for the men) and subscribe to the HOPE Core Values: Respect (Care about others), Responsibility (Do what you are supposed to do), Integrity (Be who you say you are), Productivity (Work hard) and Perseverance (Wait with hope).

HOPE participants demonstrate their understanding of living in community by initiatives they created, including:

  • The HOPE bag, which is an opportunity for participants to donate items from their commissary to others on the pod who do not have money for commissary, and
  • The Inner-Freedom group, which was developed by HOPE participants as a place to address pod issues, touch base with fellow participants, and encourage one another.

Contact the Director of the Pre-Release Program, Rev. Caitlin Werth, for more information.

How You Can Help

The Foundation of HOPE relies on the support of others like you to help us make a difference. Find out how you can get involved by sharing your gift of time or financial support.