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PRESS RELEASES and Q&A

SHIELD Ministries Expansion to Colleton County

January 21, 2023

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace - Ephesians 1:7 NIV

 

SHIELD Ministries is committed to being available to God to aid men transition through prison, prison re-entry, and prison intervention services. Our program addresses all re-entry barriers which prisoners face.  We provide evidence based cognitive behavior learning programs which include onsite housing services as well as counseling, job referral, and skills training services. We ensure that our participants understand legal and court-ordered requirements of their release to aid in successful completion. Our participants become successfully employed and become contributing members of society.

 

Recently, a campaign was launched against us attacking who we are as people  with false accusations and misinformation attacking the work that we do because of our plans to establish a third educational housing facility in Walterboro, SC.  This facility would house 55 men and become a hub of healing. We would, as we do with our other two facilities, provide case management and assessment services through Munissions Re-entry Software and partner with licensed counselors, trainers, and facilitators to equip the men on their road to redemption. 

 

Those opposing our expansion to Walterboro have claimed that we are a ‘pedophile ministry’ and that we are bringing pedophiles to the community.  These statements are untrue. Statements that we do not have licensed counselors providing services to the men are untrue. SHIELD Ministries partners with licensed professional counselors who provide weekly and bi-weekly onsite counseling services and also we provide transportation to Charleston Mental Health.

 

The men we work with are seeking to be changed and be given a second chance. So we teach them how to think, choose, and build correctly using an evidenced-based, Christian curriculum. This curriculum promotes healing, provides educational opportunities designed to help men overcome re-entry barriers, promotes accountability and responsibility, and provides residential stability and workforce readiness, all of which reduces recidivism.

 

What is true is that we have a heart to serve, and believe that God gives everyone a second chance. We believe that we are admonished not to judge others, and that we are called to love God and love our neighbors, our brothers as ourselves.

 

We have heard the concerns of the Colleton County community and have made the decision to not admit registered sex offenders at that location.  Sex offenders are only a part of those whom we serve.  We serve men in South Carolina Prisons, county jails as well as those who are re-entering back into society.  

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Q: Are you a pedophile ministry?

A: No, we are a prison, re-entry, and prison intervention Christian ministry who serves men with various criminal backgrounds as well as those with addictions.   With the merger of FreshStart Visions in May of 2022 our sex offender population has decreased in FY2022 to 41%.  Our initial plans were to house only 7 -10 sex offenders of the 50 -55 men at the Colleton County site.

Q: Are all sex offenders pedophiles?

A:  No.  “Sex offender” and “pedophile” are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they have vastly different meanings.   SHIELD Ministries works with William Burke, PhD, Assistant Director of Forensic Psychiatry at MUSC and Assistant Professor, College of Medicine in the Department of  Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and private practitioner who provides sex offender treatment to many sex offenders of which many are court ordered into his treatment program for assessment and treatment. 

Q: Will the men have unsupervised travel in the community?

A: SHIELD Ministries will provide transportation to and from work and for shopping, which is planned outside of Colleton County.  The men will not be allowed to roam the area unsupervised.

 

Q: Will SHIELD Ministries be willing to put a fence up around the property? 

A: SHIELD Ministries will install a privacy fence around the property with a secured gate.

Q: What steps does SHIELD Ministries take to address community safety?

A: The structure and schedule of the SHIELD program creates a high level of safety.  Men are randomly drug tested, have their internet and cell phone use monitored.  Phase I of the Community of Hope Program is scheduled and highly structed.   In addition, SHIELD works with professional counselors to provide court ordered sex offender counseling which includes regular polygraph tests and risk assessments, and substance abuse counseling.  Also, the men in the program are required to attend classes provided by SHIELD Ministries.  These classes are focused on cognitive behavioral learning, workforce development, and spiritual development.

Q: Is SHIELD Ministries affiliated with a specific church or religion?

A:  No.  SHIELD Ministries is a 501 (C) 3 Nonprofit Public Charity Organization.  We receive support in the form of intercessory prayer, ministry volunteers, and financial donations from various denominations and non-denominational Bodies of Christ.  

Q: Does a person have to be a Christian to participate in your program?

A:  No. SHIELD does not base acceptance on religious background.

Q: How long is the program?

A: Typically, the program is 18-24 months.  Participants at this location will be at the Barracada property for Phase One, which generally lasts six months.  After completing Phase One, the individual will be transferred to one of SHIELD’s locations in Charleston County.

 

Q: What qualifications does the SHIELD staff and volunteers have?

A: SHIELD Ministries Staff

Education Degrees:

Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Bachelor of Arts in Religion minor in Psychology

Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Master of Science in Health Care Administration, Bachelor of Science in Business Management

Master of Arts in Music

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

 

Certifications: Certified Celebrate Recovery Leader; Neurocycle Facilitator

 

SHIELD Ministries Key Volunteers:

Master of Arts in Divinity; Master of Theology; and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology 

Master of Education; Bachelor of Arts (Retired Supervising US Probation Officer)

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Information Systems

Graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy

 

SHIELD Ministries partners with qualified governmental agencies, licensed professional counselors, and with the Assistant Director of Psychiatry of MUSC to provide clinical services for registered sex offenders.  SHIELD Ministries also provides transportation to Charleston Mental Health and Vocational Rehabilitation for participants to receive counseling services.

Q: What are the successes of SHIELD Ministries and benefits to the community?

A: SHIELD Ministries has a proven track record of success.  Per our 2021 Annual Report, Graduates of the 18-24 month program are at a 0% recidivism rate.  SHIELD Ministries works closely with local law enforcement to add an additional layer of supervision.  Other community benefits are the economic impact of not having to pay for men in prison and for the men to work to pay their child support and restitution.

 

Q: Why did SHIELD Ministries choose the Barracada property instead of other sites?

A: SHIELD Ministries chose the Barracada location for several reasons.  It is secluded, but not isolated, which provides the men the opportunity to get away from the environments they have been in that consistently contributed to re-arrest.  Also, the facilities provide SHIELD with all that is needed for this program, an education center, a recreational center, a dining hall, a large meeting/worship center, and a dormitory for housing those in the program.

 

Q: What is the primary focus of SHIELD Ministries at the Barracada site?

A: The primary focus of the Barracada site will be education: teaching men the cognitive, emotional, educational, spiritual, and vocational skills needed to be successful productive members of society.

Q:  Will these men take away jobs from the Colleton County Community?

A: No.  SHIELD Ministries will be transporting men to employers outside of the Colleton County Community.  SHIELD Ministries has developed working relationships with a network of employers in the Tri-County.

 

Q: How many men will be at this site?

A: SHIELD Ministries anticipates providing services to fifty to fifty-five men at this location.

 

Q: How are they selected into the program?

A: Men are required to fill out a 14 page comprehensive application and then are interviewed either by phone or in person.  Selection is based on the results of this process.

 

Q: Under what conditions will they be disciplined or expelled?

A: SHIELD Ministries holds its participants to a high level of accountability and responsibility.  Participants are expected to fully engage in the education process, be alcohol and drug free, and be gainfully employed.  In addition, cell phones and internet devices are monitored for any inappropriate behavior.  A full list of the rules and regulations can be found in the application which can be accessed via our website, www.shieldministries.org.  If a participant violates any of the rules, his continued participation is evaluated.  If he is on supervision, his supervising officer is notified of the rules violation.  When an individual is expelled from the program, one of two

things will happen.  If the individual is on probation, his probation officer will be notified and the individual will remain on SHIELD’s site until picked up by probation.  If the individual is not on probation, SHIELD Ministries will purchase a bus ticket for the individual and he will be brought to the Charleston County and he will leave the area from there.

 

Q: Where do the men go once they complete the program?

A: Some men return to their hometowns upon completion of the program.  Some remain in the program until they find suitable housing.  When men exit they will be exiting from Charleston County.

Q: What are the risks to children at playgrounds, parks, libraries, and schools?

A: SHIELD Ministries takes community safety and child safety seriously.  One of the reasons we operate is to decrease child sexual abuse.  No one can guarantee human behavior.  With that said, SHIELD Ministries believes the rules, regulations, policies, and procedures in place, along with the supervision the men are under, significantly mitigate concerns around community safety.  

 

Q: Will the fenced area be gated or monitored at night?

A: The fence will be gated and there are surveillance cameras onsite.  We are exploring an option to provide a law enforcement substation onsite.

 

Q: Are law enforcement, elected officials, and community leaders welcome to visit?

A: The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office will be given jurisdiction over the property.  South Carolina Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services will have access to the property at all times.  We would welcome elected officials, community leaders, and others to come and visit the facilities.

OTHER STATEMENTS:

January 2023.  We are deeply saddened by the misinformation and accusations made in in the media in response to our expanding to a third location in Colleton County.  Our efforts to meet with the opposing local Colleton County Church leaders to clarify misinformation and to discuss a possible solution to alleviate the concerns of the community were denied.

 

SHIELD Ministries is in the preliminary planning stages of the expansion of our Community of Hope Program (COH).  Our program is not limited to any specific location.  SHIELD Ministries is a leading prison, re-entry, and prison intervention educational program.  Our Christian faith based program provides evidence based classes centered on cognitive behavioral learning which teach men how to think, feel, and choose in a healthy manner along with local licensed professional counselors who provide specialized treatment services onsite.  Other services include, but not limited to, referral and transportation to Charleston Mental Health. SHIELD’s re-entry services include the use of Munission Re-entry Software for assessments, goal planning and tracking.  The SHIELD COH program addresses all barriers of re-entry which are Crisis Stabilization, Regulatory Compliance, Cognitive Behavioral Learning, Workforce Development, and Spiritual Development. 

 

SHIELD Ministries merged with FreshStart Visions in May 2022, which expanded our services to provide educational programs in the SC Department of Corrections.  This merger increased our need to add a new facility, as our service population has expanded.  With this merger one of our highly controversial service populations, registered sex offenders, has decreased in numbers substantially.  Our 2022 percent of register sex offenders is now at 41%.  Early discussions with multiple local law enforcement included housing between 7-10 registered sex offenders at the new site with the other 48-50 being non-sex offenders and providing additional security measures for community safety. SHIELD Ministries currently has two other locations in North Charleston and has a total of eight employees, 7 full-time and 1 part-time and is planning to hire additional staff for the new location along with providing partner onsite licensed professional counseling services.    

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