Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.: the first ministry in the United States created to provide confidential support and counseling to individuals, families and organizations with white-collar and other nonviolent incarceration issues. Greenwich CT & Nationwide.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Reflection on Our State of Criminal Justice on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Executive Director, Family ReEntry Faith & Dignity 
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A Reflection on Our State of Criminal Justice
on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Executive Director
Family ReEntry
Bridgeport, Connecticut

Reprinted from Inner City News,
Page 21
New Haven, Connecticut
Jan. 11, 2017

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What should I do, as a white man, prison minister who was incarcerated for a white-collar crime, and as Executive Director of a Connecticut criminal justice nonprofit, to walk in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr.? How do I apply his words, that are so easy to read but so difficult to put into action? How do I honor his memory in these most challenging and controversial of times?

The moment of our comfort and convenience is certainly over. This is true on the national level where we have new, untested leadership. And this is also true here in Connecticut, where the budget crisis has made the state unable to do what is just, and fair, and safe.

Our state government has closed prisons and reduced the prison population to the lowest level since the 1970’s. This is a good thing. 

However, we are in a paradigm shift of epic proportions in which there is no public money to fund solutions to our current problems - and no adequate explanation as to how we got into this situation.  And yet, we keep going back to the state looking for handouts - for funding the way it has always been. And we are surprised and hurt when the answer is no. 

I urge everyone, and especially my fellow criminal justice colleagues, to wake up.

The fiscal crisis has caused the state to terminate the funding for - and close down - our community-based prisoner reentry behavioral health programs. This means thousands of people, many or most of them people of color, will be released from jails and prisons this year without access to therapy, life skills training, mental health services, substance abuse counseling, housing opportunities, education, or even minimum wage jobs. I propose that without this critical support, most are going to recidivate and will go back to prison in record numbers. But not before they return to the very behavior for which they were incarcerated in the first place. This is a very bad thing – for everyone.

How big is this problem? Michelle Alexander, in discussing her seminal book “The New Jim Crow” cites that there are more African American men in prison and jail, or on probation and parole, than were slaves before the start of the Civil War.

The theologian Audre Lorde observed that, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” If this is so, we need to find new tools. We need to stop groveling. With fewer government dollars to support our missions, we can get creative. We can seek out and find solutions even if the state has limited ability help us. We can envision a real private/public partnership, with compassionate foundations and other institutional sources willing to fund our justice reform efforts.  These funding sources will provide support for our advocacy in promoting change and will reward our evidence-based impact in reducing recidivism - and hold our feet to the fire if we do less.

So, where do I stand at this moment of challenge and controversy? I will do as Dr. King did - do my best. Do anything and everything it takes. And like Dr. King, take comfort in knowing that - if we really work together for it - we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.

Family ReEntry, Inc.
Bridgeport, New Haven
Norwalk, Connecticut

Conmments from Social Media:

Robert Bridges Jeff Grant, JD, M Div In your latest offering you note that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” If this is so, we need to find new tools. We need to stop groveling. With fewer government dollars to support our missions, we can get creative.<<" I agree 100% We get creative and we speak out from our hearts and we stay flexible and innovative and focused just as you are with your work reforming the criminal justice systems.  

RONALD R. KARNS III I'm curious if Dr. King would want us to walk in his footsteps? I think he would want us to blaze our own trail of social justice. 

Connie Shelley When I first met VIncent Harding (a co-conspirator and good friend and jail mate of Dr. King) in 1964 he told me that MLK knew he would die, he just didn't know where or when. Since that time I have often asked myself how far I'm willing to go for the sake of Justice. I work in a prison, but I don't live there; I speak with those who have no homes, but I don't live there, either; I drive through the places where the most minorities live in Denver, but I drive back to my house. In other words, I can always leave and go home where I'm comfortable and feel safe. That's one thing that Dr. King didn't always perhaps there is an invitation for me in that in some way.

Jacques Johan Swanepoel Sorry but I rather walk in the footsteps of Christ rather than any men or woman on this earth.

Bob Russel (CIPA 08) Hi There; In my personal opinion by doing personal posting like this will certainly honour the life of MLK. Thank you.



Monday, January 9, 2017

Family ReEntry Spring Benefit Concert starring the rock band BLUE COUPE featuring members of BLUE OYSTER CULT the ALICE COOPER BAND

School's Out for the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  
concert event of the millennium!
Family ReEntry's Spring Benefit Concert 

Family ReEntry 
 proudly presents a Benefit Concert

starring the rock band
featuring members of

and Special Guests!


Opening band will be the School of Rock, Fairfield

April 13, 2017 - Doors open at 6:30 pm.
The Warehouse at Fairfield Theater Company
70 Sanford St, Fairfield
Fairfield CT

Don't Fear the Reaper and click here for information
and to purchase tickets.

Net proceeds go towards Family ReEntry's mission
to restore dignity and renew families 
affected by justice issues. 

Family ReEntry - Bridgeport, Norwalk, New Haven CT

For Groups and Sponsorship Opportunities
please contact Jeffrey Earls, Family ReEntry
Director of Development:, (203) 290-0865

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pure Rubbish: Critiquing Eugene Soltes's Book: Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White Collar Criminal, by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div Faith & Dignity 
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Critiquing Eugene Soltes's Book:
Why They Do It: Inside the Mind
of the White-Collar Criminal

"Pure Rubbish"

by Jeff Grant, JD, M Div

I have issued a challenge to Harvard Business School Professor Eugene Soltes. I will meet him in Cambridge (or anywhere) to debate his book: "Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal." He can question me about my white-collar crime and ministry, and I can question him about his ethics in researching and writing his book. I hope you will attend if he accepts? This is a rallying cry against shame, stigma, and sensationalism and for criminal justice reform, compassion, empathy - and journalistic integrity.

As the Director of the first ministry in the U.S. created to support individuals and families with white-collar and nonviolent incarceration issues, and as someone who served time in a Federal prison for a white-collar crime I committed when I was a lawyer, I can state unequivocally that Professor Soltes's methodology and his conclusions are "pure rubbish." Why They Do It, and the press releases and media attention surrounding it, are shamelessly exploitive and are designed solely to sell books; they inflame bigotry and hatred and paint people with a broad brush designed to promote stigma, shunning and Schadenfreude (unfortunately, themes for our time it seems).

I am sure if we re-interviewed his subjects, most or all would say they had been duped into letting down their guards in sharing intensely personal details of their lives and feelings on the promise and belief that Soltes's book would be fair and balanced. If indeed he disclosed to them that he was writing a book at all?

We have worked with hundreds of men, women and families involved in and suffering from these matters, and most are not the subjects of the sensationalized headlines that Soltes claims to have interviewed. In fact, the overwhelming majority are ordinary people, professionals who live down the street, whose children play with yours, who simply got in over their heads due to desperation, addiction, compulsion or mental illness. Most didn't have the ego strength to simply talk to their spouses and admit that life was not going the way they had hoped and dreamed, until they had stepped over the line and it was too late.

Contrary to Soltes's core thesis statement, most have been mired in shame, guilt and remorse even before they were caught. It is terrifying and exhausting to spend their lives looking over their shoulders knowing that they've done something that far wrong. Whether they aware of it or not, almost all go through some kind of transformation from a material life to a more spiritual one. What other choice do they (we) have?

Although I probably have "interviewed" 4 or 5 times as many people accused or convicted of white-collar crimes and their families, I'm not arrogant enough to assert that I understand "why" anyone did or does anything. But then again, I didn't write a book claiming I do. Note the clever, and frightening, [person change in] the title of the Professor's book: why THEY do it: inside the mind of THE white-collar criminal! Aren't we a society that has fought against, and protected people from, this sort of propaganda that aggregates and assigns characteristics to an entire class of people in order to marginalize them and promote fear of them?

Our society has evolved enough that mass incarceration and related topics are now dinner-table conversation; they are finally part of the national debate. I am glad that we give many violent criminals a second chance, and indeed all of God's children deserves our empathy, compassion and kindness. But white-collar criminals have little such chance, largely because of the kind of book written by Professor Soltes. 

We can do better.

Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div
Founder/Director, Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc., Greenwich CT & Nationwide,

Comments from Social Media (more comments below):

Bob Russel (CIPA 08) Hi There; In both my personal & professional opinion it appears to be two completely different points of view on this matter. I am both a Christian and member of the Church Council on Justice & Corrections. Secondly, I have training & experience in corrections, policing, Crime Stoppers mental health assessments & addictions. Therefore I can see both sides on this matter. Appears this topic needs to be resolved in both a frank, open & honest debate between these two people here. There are always two sides to a story and this matter needs to be decided in an open forum and allow people to make up their own minds on this very topic here!!!! Thank you very much.


Tom Walker Well, I, for one, am working hard to get more white collar criminals into jail so they can find the spiritual help they need.


Kevin Lewis, CFE This critique does not debunk Soltes'findings about why white collar criminals commit fraud. The only critique I saw was that they believed the wrongdoers were remorseful and went through a transformation while incarcerated. I hope this is true as it would mean that the penal system works. The information Soltes found as to why people commit fraud is consistent with the earlier work of Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey so it should not be discarded. 


Kathy Morse Shame, an overwhelming sense of guilt almost to the point of drowning in it, being paralyzed by it.... yet we somehow manage to take that life altering experience and make it our life's mission to fight for reform, for a right and just criminal justice system, if there is such a thing. To advocate for those we left behind because for someone who has experienced it, those voices, those images, those events are forever seared in our brain, memories that we cannot rid ourselves of. It's taking a negative, painful part of life and making it into the most positive learning experience in life.

Layne Pavey I think this issue should be researched more. I can certainly consider myself a perpetrator of this kind of crime, for which I served a federal sentence, but I'm not sure I put myself in this stigmatized category of "greedy, white banker." The population representing money crimes should be qualitatively studied, but only to find solutions and interventions. Not to exploit the desperation of those who were in tough places and had to make tough choices. Especially when people do admit they were bad choices and learn from their mistakes.

Barry V. Voss
Jeff: Like you, I'm a disbarred attorney who lost everything. Unlike you, I grew up in a St. Paul housing project and spent my formative years in and out of juvenile and adult corrections institutions while developing a prodigious drug habit. At 19 I went to prison for burglary, but finally decided to change my life's trajectory. I quit drugs, enrolled in group therapy and college-level courses in prison. Once out of prison, I attended the University of Minnesota, graduated with a B.A. in political science, went to Mitchell Hamline Law School and obtained a pardon. Upon admission, I established my own firm-concentrating on criminal defense-and practiced for 35 years during which I was repeatedly recognized as a Super Lawyer, One of the Top 40 Criminal Defense Lawyers and One of the Top 50 Appellate Lawyers in Minnesota Minnesota could never see past my criminal background as it tried on five occasions to take my license. Eventualy I lost my license in 2013 and was prosecuted in federal court for tax evasion.Since then I've tried to find work with little success; all doors seemed to close on me. However, while practicing I met people in the entertainment industry and penned a semi-autobiogrphical story-A Taste of Cold Steel-which I have now developed into a screenplay. I may be embarking on a new career as I have also outlined 4 more screenplays, and I'm completing my autobiography. From my perspective, organizations embrace people with inspiring stories to tell, but not those who lifted themselves up from the streets, succeeded in transforming their lives, lost it all and had to start all over again the second time. To me, these people are highly motivated and relate very compelling stories as they share-in real time-the apparent insurmountable obstacles while attempting to reestablish their rightful place in society. Congratulations to you. Barry V. Voss


Friday, December 9, 2016

Reentry Central: Jeff Grant's Story Is an Inspiration to Other Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Faith & Dignity 
for the Days Ahead
Blogs, Guest Blogs & News

Reentry Central: Jeff Grant's Story 
Is an Inspiration to Other Formerly 
Incarcerated Individuals

By Beatrice Codianni, Managing Editor,
Reentry Central

Grant went from having an eight digit
 prison number to being number one
 at Family ReEntry, a top reentry
 organization in Connecticut

Reprinted from Reentry Central
Dec. 7, 2016

As managing editor of Reentry Central, I have the privilege of meeting many people who share a deep commitment to bringing about criminal justice reform and for ending mass incarceration. One such person is Jeff Grant, recently appointed the Interim Executive Director of  Family Re-Entry, an effective and innovative organization that helps both returning individuals and their families find solutions to issues stemming from involvement in the criminal justice system.

Rather than just post the press release of Grant’s appointment, which can be found  here, we wanted to share with Reentry Central’s readers a more in-depth look at who Jeff Grant is, the obstacles he overcame, and what he brings as the leader of a multi-city reentry organization.

Beatrice Codianni: Jeff, please begin with what you were charged with so Reentry Central’s readers can understand your involvement in the criminal justice system.

Jeff Grant: I made false representations on a Small Business Administration 9/11 loan I took out to save my law firm. In no way am I making an excuse for what I did - I was addicted to prescription painkillers stemming from a sports injury in 1992. By the time of my crime fifteen years ago (in 2001), I was taking these prescription painkillers almost every day; it increasingly ate away at my judgment and ability to perform as a lawyer. I put my need for the prescriptions before everything, even my love for my family. After 9/11, my prescription painkiller habit significantly increased. I heard many advertisements on TV and the radio inviting businesses affected by 9/11 to apply for an SBA loan. I called up and found out that my law firm qualified as it was based in Westchester County. Even though I knew the firm qualified, I couldn't help myself and I misrepresented that I had a satellite office in lower Manhattan.

BC: What was your sentence after you were found guilty?

JG: Although I committed my crime in 2001, I was arrested in 2004 and sentenced in early 2006 to eighteen month's incarceration, and three years of Federal supervised release post-prison. I was designated to Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution in White Deer, PA, a low security prison and not a camp where most white-collar offenders serve their time. At the time of my designation, I understand that even though I had a security level of "zero" and could have been designated to a camp, there were no beds available on that day so I was bumped up to the next level. It was real prison with razor wire, bars on windows and doors, controlled movements, etc. I served 13 1/2 months there until June 2007, when I was released to a halfway house in Hartford, CT and then Federal supervised release.

BC: How did your conviction impacted family, friends, colleagues, and so-called friends?

JG: I lost my law license, career, home, marriage, reputation and virtually all of my friends. My law firm and a restaurant I owned were both located in Mamaroneck, NY, so I had a lot of friends and clients there. After I had tried to commit suicide with an overdose of the prescription painkillers, almost nobody came to see how my family and I were coping. I was an untouchable and nobody wanted to be near us. I had hurt my family very badly, the scars of which are still with us to this day.

BC: How did your conviction impact your ability to find work in your previous field or in finding any work at all?

JG: As with almost all persons convicted of white collar crimes, the consequences were almost unimaginable. No matter the length of one's sentence, we are all serving life sentences. I was truly one of the lucky ones, or I'd prefer to believe it was Divine intervention. I found a new spirituality and connection to God while in prison, and dedicated my life to service of other people and families with incarceration issues. Upon my return from prison, I attended and earned a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in NYC, with a focus on Christian Social Ethics. My first position after seminary was as Associate Minister and Director of Prison Ministries at the First Baptist Church located in the inner city of Bridgeport Connecticut. From there, my wife and partner-in-ministry Lynn Springer and I founded (in our hometown of Greenwich, CT) Progressive Prison Ministries, the first ministry in the U.S. created to provide confidential support and counseling to individuals, families and organizations with white-collar and other nonviolent incarceration issues.

BC: What will you bring to Family Re-Entry?

JG: In 2009, while I was applying to attend seminary, I was also volunteering for Family ReEntry, a nonprofit based in Bridgeport that serves families affected by incarceration issues. Family ReEntry elected me to its Board of Directors in 2009. That year Lynn and I, through Family ReEntry, converted an inner city block in Bridgeport into one of the largest privately-owned public use parks and gardens in the State of Connecticut. I served as a Family ReEntry Board member and Corporate Officer for almost eight years. When our long-time Executive Director stepped down to become our senior consultant, I was honored and humbled to be elected as Interim Executive Director. Of course I accepted… not only do I owe my second chance to Family ReEntry, but I believe that I am the first person in the country who was incarcerated for a white-collar crime to be made the head of a major criminal justice nonprofit. I hope to serve as a power of example that there is hope after prison.

BC: Since the clients of Family Re-Entry are mostly people convicted of non-white collar crimes do you think you can relate to them?

JG: Although I share a history of incarceration with the men and women Family ReEntry serves from Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwalk (and other cities in Connecticut), I do not for one minute believe that I truly understand what it is to live and have grown up in their shoes. The first thing I do is put my male white privilege on the table so I can own it and make clear that I can only communicate from my social location. It is amazing how open and free flowing things can be when we don't pretend to be anything other than who we truly are. From this authenticity, I have been able to relate to the many men and women I have met, helped, and have been helped by in my role as a minister and at Family ReEntry. I have learned that many or most people, and their families, who committed so- called inner city crimes and those who committed white-collar crimes are suffering many similar issues - shame, shunning, stigma, depression, inability to find a job, etc.

BC: What are your duties at Family Re-Entry and do they expand to other cities?

JG: I understand that as the interim Executive Director the buck stops with me, but I work with the most dedicated and talented group of people I have ever been among. These are seasoned professionals who work in a nonprofit only because they have a calling to serve others. It is often an exhausting job for which they are, as is true with most people working in nonprofits, generally underpaid and sacrifice much. I hope that my background and own prison story, gives me some street cred with our incredible staff and clients.

BC: Any final thoughts?

JG: We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the criminal justice reform movement, and in delivery of critical reentry programs to ensure the success of returning individuals and provide optimal public safety. This is true on the national level, and is especially true here in Connecticut where state budget cutbacks compel us to find new, innovative, cost-effective solutions to the problems and to criminal justice leadership. It is an honor to bring my background and experience in business, law, criminal justice, recovery, and prison ministry to be of service to our community.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dec. 2016 Newsletter: Progressive Prison Ministries. White-Collar Ministry, Advocacy, Service. Faith & Dignity for the Days Ahead

Progressive Prison Ministries
December 2016 Newsletter 

Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. 
Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Director, Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate 

White-Collar Ministry I Advocacy I Service
Faith & Dignity for the Days Ahead  

The first ministry in the United States created to provide confidential  
support and counseling to individuals, families and organizations with  
white-collar and other nonviolent incarceration issues     

In the December 2016 Edition: 



Significant Outcomes: Since Jan. 2015, We have Served Over 140 Individuals and Families in 25 States:  

Since Jan. 2015, we have served individuals and families in twenty-five states, including:    
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
We typically communicate with individuals and families before, during and upon reentry from prison in person or by phone, email, Skype, FaceTime, GoToMeeting or, if in a Federal prison, via CorrLinks. Please click image for our information package. 

News: Our White-Collar/Nonviolent
Online Support Group celebrates its thirty-first weekly meeting!     

If you have been convicted of a white-collar or nonviolent crime and have served your sentence, please consider joining our confidential online white-collar/ nonviolent support group [As this support group is being run by clergy as part of a program of pastoral counseling, we consider it to be confidential and privileged]. We hold our weekly group meetings on GoToMeeting on Tuesdays, 8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5 pm Pacific. Click image for details.

Guest Blog: Why Prisoners
and Ex-Felons Should
Retain the Right to Vote 
by Gregg D. Caruso, PhD

6.1 million citizens were barred from voting on election day. Our friend Gregg D. Caruso is Associate Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning and Co-Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network (JWRN) housed at the University of Aberdeen School of Law, Scotland. Click image to read Gregg's article. 

Guest Blog: What's the Use of Regret? by Gordon Marino, PhD

"Kierkegaard observed that you don't change God when you pray, you change yourself. Perhaps it is the same with regret. I can't rewind and expunge my past actions, but perhaps I change who I am in my act of remorse. Henry David Thoreau advised: 'Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.' To live afresh is to be morally born again." Click image to read Gordon's Op-Ed.  

Event: We Will be Leading a Workshop at the UMC Reentry Conference, Jan. 29 & Feb 4, 2017

Louis L. Reed (Program Director of the City of Bridgeport Initiative on Reentry) and I will be leading a workshop at the United Methodist Church Board of Church & Society Reentry Conference. Click image for details.


Save the Date: We Will Be Leading a Workshop at the CMCA Reentry Conference, May 5-6, 2017

Please join us in Philadelphia as Jeffrey Abramowitz and I will be leading "You Got to Have Faith: An Inside Look at Reentry" at the 5th Annual Correctional Ministries and Chaplains Assn. Summit, May 5-6, 2017. Click image for information and to register.

Interview: Jeff Talked Criminal Justice with Felipe Luciano, WBAI Radio FM 99.5 NYC    

Click image to listen to Felipe & Jeff discuss faithful responses to criminal justice issues in America (at 19.00). Jeff & Felipe were classmates at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. 

Article: Fairfield County Business Journal: Jeff Grant Takes on Leadership of Family ReEntry

"Grant's elevation - he's served on Family ReEntry's board of directors since 2009 - marks the first time that a person formerly incarcerated for a white-collar crime has served as the head of a major criminal justice nonprofit. 'It's a tremendous step, and a bold decision on the board's part,' Grant said. 'This is a transformative period for Family ReEntry. I owe them my fresh start, so of course I said yes when they offered me the position.'" Please click image to read Kevin Zimmerman's article. 


Donations: A Message to Our Great Community of Givers! 

Thank You for All You Do for Those Who Need it Most!
We know that you contribute to many important causes, and are grateful for your support of our Ministries this holiday season! Donations can be made by credit card/PayPal by clicking the image above, or by sending your check payable to: "Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc." P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883. Donations Are Only Source Of Revenue. We are a CT Religious Corp. with 501(c)(3) status. Your donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Contact Information:  
If transformation and redemption matter to you, a friend or a family member with a white-collar or nonviolent incarceration issue, please contact us and we will promptly send you an information package by mail, email or via Dropbox. The darkest days of a person's life can be a time of renewal and hope.

Blessings, כן, מאוד

Jeff & Lynn Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project are missions of Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.  

Mailing Address: 
P.O. Box 1232 
Weston, Connecticut 06883 
Rev. Deacon Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Director
Lynn Springer, Founding Advocate
Innocent Spouses, Children & Families
(m) 203-536-5508

Rev. Monsignor Joseph Ciccone, Ed D, M Div
Supervising Minister
(201) 982-2206

Jacqueline Polverari, MBA, MSW, Advocate
Women's Incarceration Issues
(203) 671-5139
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats 
(m) 203-609-5088
Jim Gabal, Development 
(m) 203-858-2865
Babz Rawls Ivy, Media Contact 
(m) 203-645-9278

Faith & Dignity for the Days Ahead