Q: Is this about being soft on crime?

A: No. We firmly believe we need prisons. We believe that people need to be held accountable for their actions. Preparing individuals for their moral, ethical, and legal release is not being soft on crime. This preparation is a very practical way of being fiscally responsible for taxpayer dollars, since recidivism rates are reduced when inmates are prepared for their release.

Q: Why should I be concerned whether or not convicts stay out of prison when they are released?

A: If for nothing else, the savings of taxpayer dollars should be a convincing argument. According to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, it costs Nebraska taxpayers on average $28,500 per inmate, per year. The savings preparing inmates for their release quickly adds up.

Q: How many people are released from prison in Nebraska?

A: Each year, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services releases approximately 2200 individuals.

Q.  What is the average length of time served by inmates in Nebraska?

A: The average length of time served in Nebraska is 22 months. Ninety-five percent of the inmates in Nebraska prisons will be released. Only a very small percentage of the prison population is sentenced to life without parole or to death.

Q: How many prisons are there in Nebraska?

A: There are 10 State prisons, run by Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. In addition, there are many county jails and other facilities where men and women are incarcerated in our state.

Q: Are there maximum security prisons in Nebraska?

A: There are two maximum security prisons in Nebraska: Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln and Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Tecumseh. Both of these institutions have sections within their respective institution that are considered maximum security.

Q: What can I do?

A: You can support the work of this ministry in many ways. Donations are always welcome. Volunteers are always needed. Keep us in your prayers. Make sure you tell your local representative that you are interested in prison issues and that you expect him/her to work for better prisons.

Q: I want to volunteer in prison but I’m scared. Is it very dangerous?

A: Statistically you are far more likely to get injured in an accident driving to prison than having something happen to you inside. Having said that, prisons can be dangerous places. We are very fortunate here in Nebraska, in that our prisons are safe, professionally run institutions, where staff take pride in professionalism and safety. In reality, prisons are not like what you see in the movies or on TV. Released and Restored provides excellent volunteer training, fully preparing you to work wisely and safely with us inside the prison facilities. When volunteering in prisons, remember where you are. Always follow directions given by officers and do not break any of the rules set by the institutions and/or the Department.

Q: Can I deduct my donations to Released and Restored on my tax report?

A: We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and our non-profit status is approved by the Internal Revenue Service. When you donate to Released and Restored, you will receive a receipt detailing your donation. Use this to document your donations for tax purposes.

Q: Are you part of the United Methodist Church?

A: Released and Restored is Advance Special #713 of the Nebraska Annual Conference. For those members of the United Methodist Church, your donation through the Conference is considered mission giving. Our founder and executive director, Ruth Karlsson, is a Licensed Local Pastor appointed to Extension Ministry with Released and Restored. The resident bishop and district superintendent in Lincoln are ex-officio members of the board of directors.


Desiring to find my future, I signed up for a class called LIFE SKILLS/ RE-ENTRY PREP, offered by RELEASED AND RESTORED (R & R). I had heard of the organization while I was in Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York, but did not sign up for their program at that time. It wasn’t until I came to the Community Correctional Center in Lincoln that I decided to take advantage of this class.

I soon learned that I must break the cords holding me prisoner to my past, letting go of all that had become ME.  As I reflected on the past years, I realized that to society I had become just a number and a statistic. I had melded into the invisible population of felons who live behind a fence like caged birds waiting to be free.

I would often daydream to pass the time away. My thoughts would wander while my heart was breaking in despair, thinking I was holding on to a knot in a rope, not realizing that it had wrapped itself around my neck anchoring me to the cares of this world. Unwilling to let go of me, it continued to choke the life out of me.

While in class, the R & R program mentors asked our group to write about WHO WE THINK WE ARE, to look beyond the person we present to them, to a potential employer, possibly even to ourselves. Looking inward for someone like me has been nothing but a stumbling block. It was in fact, one of the reasons that I kept relapsing into behaviors that return me to prison. So, I knew that becoming honest, down to the deepest depths of my soul, would be a daunting task. The mentors are driven by the desire for me to comprehend, and they motivate with a passion. They have a burning desire to help the individual with exploration, in hopes of uncovering the truth.

Driven by intrigue and  a strong need to shed some old dead skin, I accepted the challenge. I felt comfortable and even compelled to BECAUSE of the mentors who had been where I stand, who have been caged themselves. As I continue to listen, suddenly I see:  THEY HAVE FACED THE TRUTH OF THIER PAST.  I must at least try to face mine.

It did not take long for me to reveal the single most destructive lie that I’ve believed for half of a decade, a self-fulfilling prophecy that almost killed me.  You’re  no good, worthless, and  unlovable, was what I was telling myself. I found out that whatever you put out into the universe will come back to you in exactly the same way, while passing up opportunities that the world has for you to see who you were meant to be…

I could choose to stay stuck, become unglued, or change.  This is where a pivotal change first occurred.  I believe this happened because I wasn’t sitting in a church full of people being told …God Loves You.

The difference was, someone that I began to trust, looked me in the eye and gently said, ”You can do this, I believe in you.”  Likewise, our eyes are enlightened when we look upwards toward the light  reflected from the sun, bringing into focus those things that were not clear before, but were hidden in the heart of our universe. The locks on our hearts are all different, however the only key to unlock the mysteries of life remains the same – Never changing always calling…

It came as a whisper at first, but I  finally heard the voice that I had been searching for, the voice that comes from deep within, along with my confidence, things soon became more clear.

Through the R & R program, I learned that it’s within the parameters that WE designate as truth: only reveal to others our closed minded ignorance. That destruction would be our final demise if SOMETHING OR SOMEONE didn’t change, and soon! I am right where I am supposed to be for the first time in my life. I am truly grateful for the time and dedication of these humble people who showed me a different road, other than the one I was on, the one that would have lead me right back to prison.

-Jill Curran