Our Mission

Why we exist

Joseph House exists because 95% of the 100,000 men and women currently incarcerated in Florida will be released. Without support services, two-thirds will return to prison within three years.

Imprisoned in the U.S.
Imprisoned in Florida
Recidivism Rate
The "Chain Gang" of Tallahassee, FL
Understanding the need

Mass incarceration is an extension of our past.

The United States has the highest prison population in the world, housing roughly 22% of prisoners worldwide. Long before this record was set, we had a history of lynching, slavery, and executions.

A need for change

We know there is a problem and we are committed to change.

Florida’s incarceration rate exceeds every country on the planet. In this era of mass incarceration, when millions are warehoused in prisons and jails, the dignity of the human person is compromised.

In a process Joseph House calls accompaniment, we prioritize the material, relational, and spiritual needs of the human person by walking with them as friends and advocates as they rejoin us in free society.

Our approach understands the past, recognizes the trauma of the prisoner, and strives for truth and reconciliaton.  

Two of our residents enjoying an FSU game

Our Approach

We have come to see through our work in prisons in the South that offering a narrative of their situation through history - the history of slavery, of Jim Crow, of racial terror lynching, of convict leasing - has been essential to the ability of those incarcerated to know themselves, to know the truth of their lives, of their father’s and mother’s, of their grandparents’ lives.

We find that, otherwise, they are left to sit in cells echoing with society’s condemnation and rejection, left to condemn and reject themselves and their own families and communities.

In 1970, many policymakers believed the prison population was too large at 200,000. Fifty years later, however, there is an alarming 2.3 million people incarcerated.  We at Joseph House also acknowledge the grave racial disparity among the incarcerated.

The Bureau of Justice finds that 1 in 3 black male babies born today will spend time in prison at some point in their lifetimes. In 2016, black males ages 18 and 19 were 12 times as likely as white males of the same age to be imprisoned.

We are committed to addressing these troubling realities as we serve those most affected by mass incarceration.

People in prison experience traumatic stressors that threaten their physical and mental health.   Their coping abilities can be overwhelmed and, as they develop PTSD and trauma related symptoms, their risk for re-arrest rises.

The harsh disciplinary tactics, physical and sexual violence, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, idleness, and inadequate health and mental health care within prisons and the racial and class bias within the criminal justice system cause lasting harm to incarcerated people and place burdens on the families and communities they eventually return to.  

At Joseph House, we work to heal this harm.  We provide trauma interventions that begin with addressing the fundamental human needs for safety and material security.

Our therapeutic services include trauma-specific treatment programming, a trauma-informed environment and daily opportunities for our participants to engage in a healing process of being heard and welcomed by a supportive community concerned with ending mass incarceration.

We exist to accompany the prisoner and give them a home.

Mass incarceration is the latest chapter in our history of social injustice, but the story is not yet finished. Journey with us as we accompany the most vulnerable and helpless amongst us, modeling our mission on the life of Christ.

Past, present, and Future

Restoring Dignity

Through our extensive work in the prison systems, we have seen firsthand the relational, material, and spiritual needs of the human person re-entering society after incarceration.

Through our research into the present problem of mass incarceration, we have seen the parallels with our history of slavery, lynching, and executions.

Through confronting these difficult truths, we are better equipped for the modern realities challenging the dignity of the person.


The process of accompaniment

This is a shared journey in which we walk with the formerly incarcerated through their first days and weeks of freedom to help ease the burdens created by the multiple obstacles they face in obtaining quality housing, paying court fees, receiving their driver’s license, gaining dignified employment, receiving physical and mental health services.

Our journey together aims to create opportunities for participants to become self-sustaining and contributing members of society and to do so at their pace, led by their needs and values, their hopes and dreams