Horizon staff and volunteers work closely with inmates to help them realize that a life driven by criminal thoughts and behaviors is no longer an option for them.
It’s difficult work involving many layers of emotion, trauma, and survival skills. That is why we spend a year with each group of participants, to truly transform them into men and women who believe that everyone deserves honor, respect, and dignity.
How the program works
Each September, a new group of Horizon participants moves into a dormitory where they live until graduation in the spring. The group is divided into family units of 6-8 participants with various backgrounds. By living as a family unit, participants learn how to live with others peacefully, a skill that will serve them the rest of their lives.
Inmates in the program continue performing their regular work duties and adhering to the prison schedule. In the evenings, they return to the dormitory to study Horizon courses that explore spiritual development, character reformation, victim awareness, and trauma recovery.
Several key themes run through all Horizon coursework:
- Faith – Participants explore their chosen faith in deep and meaningful ways. Through faith, they find strength, truth, hope, and forgiveness. Horizon has a strong multifaith policy that encourages participants to grow spiritually and respect those who believe differently.
- Trauma – Trauma is a root cause of violence and crime. Facing trauma they’ve experienced and trauma they’ve caused takes strength and courage. No one can change the past, but they can realize that the past doesn’t dictate their future. Participants can choose to honor their victims and themselves by living the rest of their lives as examples of faith, love, and respect.
- Others – Participants learn how to foster relationships, handle anger, and manage conflict constructively. They learn to appreciate differences in others and to love and respect all of our brothers and sisters.
In the spring, Horizon participants graduate from the program. They move out of the dormitory and back into the general prison population. This is where the ripple effect takes place.
Our graduates share their newfound sense of value and dignity with other prisoners. They respect people who are different. They use anger management and conflict resolution to deal with issues that arise.
The result is a safer prison for the people who live and work there. That is what we mean when we say that Horizon Prison Initiative transforms prisoners who then transform prisons.