Often times, the most challenging experiences of our lives turn out to be the most formative. This is especially true for the men and women in 21 California state prisons who are participating in the Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) curriculum. TUMI is a 3.5-year program that shapes, educates and grows Christian leaders out of inmates, through 16 Biblical study courses that are roughly the equivalent of those you’d find in a Master’s program.
Currently, there are about 700 students participating in TUMI within the California prison system – many of these participants have spoken about God’s work in transforming their lives. Behind the scenes at Serving California, we have seen this to be not just a spoken testimonial, but also a statistical fact.
Serving California has been tracking TUMI student recidivism rates (the rate at which a previously incarcerated individual reoffends) since April 2015, and over the last six months, we have seen a decline among individuals who have been released. In April, one out of 110 (less than 1%) of our TUMI students who had been released for three years or more had reoffended, and four out of 78 individuals (5%) released for less than three years had recidivated.
Today, one out of 118 (~1%) TUMI students released for three or more years has been rearrested, while none of the 44 individuals released for less than three years have committed another crime, or recidivated.
Now, when we compare these statistics, averaging a recidivism rate among TUMI grads of 1% to the California state average rate of recidivism of about 65% (in 2012, of inmates who did not participate in faith-based, transitional programs like TUMI), we begin to see how groundbreaking this work is. TUMI is literally transforming individuals who were statistically likely to reoffend into new people – into people of faith, stability, and strong character.
We are continuously working hard to track our TUMI students’ progress and evaluating the ways in which we can continue to help them as they go about the difficult business of changing their lives. Our goal is to pursue long-term research so that we may contribute to our community and continue our redemption work.
Tristian Monterastelli - Research & Development Analyst, Serving California