The Sun Comes

The Sun Comes: A Citizen’s Field Guide to Prison Reentry


We are so ready to accept failure among prisoners that our primary measure of success for them is a negative one — how many don’t go back to prison. In fact, this perspective is so pervasive that prisoners themselves accept it as their most important goal when going home. They hardly notice what this says about their personal aspirations  — nothing; or the fact that it fundamentally shifts the possibilities of their life from creating value to merely doing no more damage.

With our expectations about what prisoners can offer to society so low, Hope is more like wishful thinking than an orientation to Grace — something more likely to extinguish their spirit than to enkindle it.

If we are ever to see a day with fewer prisons in the land, we must learn how to reach out to those behind bars and help them to gain the sense of life-giving dignity that comes only from true Hope. Rather than bending our efforts simply to keep them from going back, we must begin to answer a higher calling to dignify their road to return by traveling a portion of it with them as pilgrims on a common journey.

Based on decades of experience traveling this road with thousands of prisoners and grounded in substantial research on achieving positive success after prison, The Sun Comes is more about showing up for life than it is about preparing for reentry — for a life that is both full of purpose and a gift to the world.

This book is intended as a guide for program staff, volunteers, and loved ones who are traveling a similar road with a former offender, whether recently locked up or recently released. The goal is to create simple and measurable improvements that lead to stability after prison but to do so in a way that brings about a shift in consciousness and leads to a more civil society. Although The Sun Comes can be read alone, the aim is for it to be read as a group — for it to be a source of light and life as two or more join hands on the road to return.

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