We began our second cohort of EMPWR on September 10, 2018!

EMPWR is a 20-week, 40-contact hour program created by Released and Restored to address the unique needs of incarcerated women.

More than 80% of incarcerated women have experienced repeated physical, emotional, or sexual violence throughout their lives.  This type of repeated trauma greatly reduces a woman’s sense of her own worth and value.

As a result, the vast majority of incarcerated women commit their crimes under duress or coercion in the form of:

emotional violence;

physical or sexual violence; or

the threat of physical or sexual violence.

EMPWR utilizes the concepts of Trauma Informed Care, to prepare women to become:

  • Self-confident
  • Self-controlled
  • Self-directed
  • Self-sustaining
  • Self-EMPWR’d

After completion of the program, it is our hope and goal that each woman recognize her own ability to chart and direct the course of her own life.

EMPWR is currently provided at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York, Nebraska.



On Friday, August 24th, we graduated Cohort 79 from Life Skills/Re-Entry Prep!!
On July 27, 2018 we had a going away party for Les, who is beginning a new journey in a new career. He has been a huge part of what has made our Life Skills/Re-Entry Prep program here at our St. James United Methodist Church location so successful. We have grown as an organization, and most importantly as friends. We have made a great team and his presence will surely missed by all of us. Good luck and God’s blessings to you Les!!! We will “See You Later!!”
Friendly Fire


“Friendly Fire” is a weekly conversation with Stu Kerns, Senior Pastor at Zion Church in Lincoln. Each Saturday morning at 7 am, Stu talks with local clergy, politicians, and news-makers about the news of the week in light of our faith.

Listen to “Friendly Fire” Saturdays 7-8am on The Voice of Lincoln, 1400 KLIN.

Click on the link below to listen to Ruth Karlsson’s Podcast:


Give to Lincoln Day 2018 News:

We would like to say thank you to the sponsors who matched funds and the donors who supported us financially for Give to Lincoln Day in 2018.

Also, a BIG thank you to Lincoln Community Foundation and Firespring for hosting this awesome fundraising event every year!!

Thank you Donors!:
Rhonda Mattingly
Marge & Dan Schlitt
Laurel Erikson
Cynthia Didion
Danielle Conrad
Deb Farwell
Saundra Karst
Kyle McConnell
Cathy Grove
Charlotte Campbell
Rebecca McMickell
Susan Ledder
Gerise Herndon
Timothy Balzer
Barb & Mike Brunkow
Hugh Davis
Karen & Thomas Barrett
Jerry & Jolene McInnis
Marilyn & Edwin Nelson
Red Capital Management
Gretchen Treadway
Troy Stentz & Lisa Rosar
Thank you Sponsors!:
Assurity Life Insurance Company
Ed Copple
Cornhusker Bank
Data Source Technology and Printing Solutions
Davis Design
The Family of Alfred A. Duteau
Bob & Jan FitzSimmons
Bill & Marilyn Cintani
Lincoln Community Foundation
Pinnacle Bank
Joe W. & Ruth K. Seacrest Fund
Tom & Lisa Smith
Talent Plus
T.O. Haas Tire
US Bank
West Gate Bank
Mae Whitmer
Mary Wobig
WRK Family Foundation
Thank you Media Sponsors!:
Lincoln Journal Star
NRG Media/Broadcast House (KLIN, B107.3)
Alphamedia (KFOR, KFRX, Kx96, Eagle)
KOLN/KGIN Channel 10-11
KLKN Channel 8
Lamar Outdoor Advertising
Strictly Business Magazine
LNK News


Another awesome graduation in the books!!
On July 20, 2018 these ladies were our 77th cohort to complete Life Skills/Re-Entry Prep!!

On June 4th, 2018, we had the privilege of graduating seven ladies from our first EMPWR class at Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. Words cannot describe the outcome of this pilot program or how much joy we got out of getting to know this great group of ladies and watching them grow into a strong community focused on empowering each other and themselves.

On June 29, 2018 we graduated Cohort 76 from our Life Skills/Re-Entry Prep program!

On June 1, 2018 we graduated this great group of ladies as Cohort 74 of LSRP!!


On May 18, 2018 we graduated this cool group of guys from Life Skills/Re-Entry Prep (LSRP)! 



Kerry, Ciara, and Claire (Nebraska Wesleyan University students) and Jodi (drives up from Crete!) were an amazing addition to our Job Readiness/Life Skills class at the Adult Detention Facility for the months of October and November. Thank you ladies for your dedication to Released and Restored!



On August 29th we hosted a fundraising event for EMPWR at the home of Jan Brockley. It was a wonderful evening with a great turn out of supporters. We are truly grateful for everyone that came out to help make the event a huge success!

During the event, Denise Davidson, Warden at Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York, and two currently incarcerated women shared the importance and necessity of what this program will offer to help prepare incarcerated women for their successful and productive return to their children and society.

A big THANK YOU to our hostesses: Jan Brockley, Dr. Gerise Herndon, Barbara Kohl, and Dr. Sue Wortmann.

EMPWR will launch at Nebraska Correctional Center for Women (NCCW) in York, NE in January 2018.

If you would like to make a donation to help support this program, please click on the Donate button below. 


We would like to give a VERY big thank you to FIRST PLYMOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Lincoln. The church collected items for Released and Restored during their Spring donation drive. Our office is now stocked with office supplies and other essential items that are needed to keep our program running on a daily basis. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the kindness and support shown through this donation and how much it helps our organization.





LSRP for Veterans at NSP 

On April 4th, 2017, Released and Restored launched its 20-week, Life Skills/Re-Entry Prep program, to men living in the Veteran’s Unit at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. We are delighted that we exceeded our expectations with 14 individuals signing up and participating in this program, which we normally cap at 12 individuals.

These 14 men are fully engaged and very, very respectful of one another and of us.  We are honored and proud to be working with these Veterans who have so nobly served our country.  We look forward to building relationships with them, learning from them, and giving them hope and confidence for their future.





Concordia Student Volunteers:

For the months of February, March, and April, we have had the joy and privilege of having four students from Concordia University join us, for their service-learning project, as we provide our Jobs Readiness/Life Skills program at the Adult Detention Facility in Lincoln.  Ashton, Justus, Liz, and Grady brought open minds, empathy, wisdom, and dedication to each and every class session.

We are forever grateful for their time and commitment of being there, and for the hope they gave each and every participant

Here’s what they had to say:

Liz – “The men’s attitudes are what makes this experience so positive for me. I was nervous initially because I didn’t think many of the men would take the class seriously, but they are incredibly driven and want to be in the class. I think they understand that we are taking the time out of our day to come out and teach them, so they are not taking it for granted. It’s so inspiring to me to watch these men not give up, despite them being incarcerated. In my personal opinion, I could see myself falling into a deep pit of self-pity if I was in their situation, but they see this as a learning experience and are ready to take a step in their life to better themselves. I am blessed to be a part of that milestone in their life. ”

Justus – “One of the biggest positives of this experience has been my newfound perspective of inmates. I can honestly say that these men deserve a second chance and the stigma that is attached to have committed a felony is ill begotten for the men that I work with every Tuesday and Friday. Not only that, but these men have lives but the crimes they commit took them away from. The men that I work with freely admit to having commit these crimes and repent for having caused harm to not only the victim and their families but also society as a whole. Being able to talk to the inmates every Tuesday and Friday is honestly the best part of my day. I love how ready to learn they are and their eagerness to change their lot in life. I wish more of my fellow students would take their passion for learning to classes here at Concordia.”

Grady – “Helping men out who have had trouble in their recent life and seeing them accept the help and to actually want the help. Normally people in jail think they’re too good and won’t accept the help from programs who come into the jail. They have improved from the beginning and it is so rewarding to see this.”

Ashton – “Being able to give the men our experiences and provide them with feedback on homework and their interviews has been great.  They look up to us even though we are younger than them and probably have less experience in life than they do.  They are respectful and we all laugh, make jokes, and have a good time.  We still get a lot of work done though.”


Numbers Served Update:

As of December 31, 2017: We have served 2195 individuals!








Cohort 31

20170922_151851 copy


20170303_131057_resized (1)




  Terrill Smith




Safe Haven continues to provide a weekly opportunity for safe and sober fun and fellowship for all who attend, participants and volunteers.

Safe Haven meets every Saturday 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

2400 South 11th (11th & Lake)

St. James UMC

We look forward to seeing you there!


Other News:

Fans gathered oIMG_2111n August 27, 2013, at St. Mark’s Family Life Center to hear Ricky Simmons, former Husker football receiver (’83) and NFL player talk a little about football and a lot about his life off the field. The event raised $5,000 for Released and Restored, a nonprofit working to provide inmates and ex-offenders with access to the tools and the support systems they need to learn how to live productive, moral, ethical, and legal lives in neighborhoods and communities.


Ricky shared his story with about 200 supporters.

Ricky shared his story with about 200 supporters.

Nearly 200 supporters listened to Simmons’ story of hope, recovery, and the importance of a network of support. Despite his traditional, hands-on upbringing by involved, highly educated parents, Simmons quit the NFL to be a full time drug addict, which led him to prison. A letter from Coach Tom Osborne inspired the motivation Ricky needed to recover and find renewed purpose in his life.

Ricky’s story provided insight into the issue of prisoner re-entry back into the community. His story was followed by a question and answer session with Released and Restored Executive Director, Ruth Karlsson.

Financial support was provided by sponsor Ah’Roma Coffee and numerous underwriters.