Brother works behind bars

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Wednesday 29, August 2007 | Category:   Consecrated Life

“Visit the prisoner” is one of the corporal acts of mercy. Holy Cross Brother James Van Dyke not only visits prisoners, he counsels, trains, and helps them find services as well.

Brother Van Dyke works for the Correctional Services Department of the Salvation Army in northern Illinois, primarily at Cook County Jail in Chicago and the maximum security Stateville prison in suburban Joliet. Besides the traditional chaplain tasks of facilitating prayer and Bible study groups and offering counseling to inmates on spiritual and family matters, Van Dyke serves on a Life Learning Program team that provides inmates with spiritual, educational, and life skills classes along with self-help and substance abuse recovery groups.

Van Dyke also works with nonviolent offenders to explore alternatives to incarceration. For those released from prison and trying to reintegrate into mainstream society, he identifies services such as job placement, housing, and support groups. He was a pioneer in establishing the county’s drug treatment courts, which combine legal sanctions with treatment and a preventive approach to future drug-related crimes.

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