“Jeff is a true inspiration to anyone coming home from prison to face the many trials and tribulations that life throws at you. I made a very bad choice in 2009 which led me to a federal indictment and 7 months in Danbury Federal Prison Camp for women and then three months in a halfway house. I had gut wrenching guilt and remorse, and immersed myself in every program available in Danbury. I was seeking self-awareness of who I was and why I veered off my path of good decision making. It was not until I came home and met Jeff Grant that I truly started my journey to redemption and forgiveness. His amazing attitude, coupled with immense experience, brought such clarity to my very foggy existence. Jeff founded a White Collar Support Group and invited me to join in. Finding that group was such a turning point for me as I was lost. The group helped me with my immense feelings of guilt and how to overcome adversities that I never knew would exist for me. I am grateful to Jeff and all the men and women in that group and feel so fortunate to know I am not alone in my journey. Due to Jeff, I am able to give back to the women I now work with within the criminal justice system by utilizing my strengths, experience and educational background. “ – Jacqueline Polverari, MSW, Advocate Women’s Incarceration Issues, Connecticut
“Upon returning home from long-term incarceration I felt motivated to do the things necessary in order to bring some semblance of order back into my life. But as equipped as I was, there were certain things that I couldn’t have anticipated or prepared for. My emotional and mental health suffered from my inability to find someone – anyone – who understood. I felt afraid and impotent. But in my search for answers I came upon Jeff Grant. After reading his story, I reached out to him and found a kind and compassionate ear. He took the time to hear me out, listen to my fears, concerns, and hopes, and invited me to network with him and others in a way that helped me be conscious of the fact that my struggles are shared by others. He helped me appreciate that I could contribute to others lives in a way that helped them, and that being of service would help me as well. I credit Jeff not merely with being a helping hand, but with being a clearing house of resources and knowledge that I couldn’t have hoped for. He is attentive, humorous, giving of himself, and quick to work to develop meaningful solutions to problems that can have a lasting impact on the lives of the people around him. I’m grateful to Jeff for his friendship, advice, and leadership; I encourage anyone dealing with any life transition – especially, but not only, where the criminal justice and correctional systems are at play – to reach out to Jeff to ask for help.” – Joshua C. Cagney, M.A., Virginia
“Shortly after my release in September 2015, I was guided to Jeff’s door by complete chance and little did I know that I had just hit the proverbial “reentry” lottery that would help shape and change my life. I asked for his guidance about how I could possibly return to society as a once respected trial lawyer who was now branded a convicted felon. After words of support, Jeff suggested that I join the White Collar Support Group which met each week via the Internet. Not sure that I could even log in, as I was still living in a halfway house. I managed to find a library or satellite to check in, and can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This support group has given me an opportunity to share my thoughts, concerns and emotional trauma with a compassionate and understanding group of people who all traveled a similar journey and who all have now become good friends. There is no question that those who have experienced the criminal justice system all face common problems, barriers and trauma as we begin our reintegration into society. I am proud to say that I am associated with this fine group of people and hope and pray that some day we can share the lessons and benefits of the peer support and mentoring that has helped me to find my passion and purpose in life. Thank you!” – Jeffrey Abramowitz, Pennsylvania
“Jeff is a gift to anyone facing time in prison, as well as to anyone coming home from prison and trying to readjust to their new reality. I made a terrible choice at a critical time in my life and as a result was sentenced to 27 months in prison at FPC Alderson in West Virginia; I report next week. Unfortunately, I did not meet Jeff until a few hours after my sentencing, and I joined the White Collar Support Group the next Monday night. I wish I had had him with me throughout my entire journey. It’s such a relief to know I have someone in my corner to guide me through critical decisions and can just simply relate to every emotion and thought that pops into my head and all hours of the day (and night). He is realistic in his advice, sympathetic when he needs to be, and has brought me clarity and helped me put one foot in front of the other when I didn’t think I could muster up the strength to even get out of bed. I am so grateful to Jeff and all of the men and women in the group to know that I am not alone and have a confidant and friend I can talk to. In fact, one a of the women in the group is flying in to be with me when I self-surrender to prison. I hope to someday be able to give back to people in my position the way Jeff and this group has given to me.” Ashley Cole Furst, Colorado (currently serving in a Federal prison)
“I received an invitation from Jeff Grant of Progressive Prison Ministries in August 2016 to attend a White Collar Support Group meeting. I was reluctant and hesitant about accepting the invitation because I had my reservation about what this group was going to tell me about serving time in a Federal Prison and the challenges and difficulties post incarceration. Being a convicted felon, I have endured a multitude of challenges post incarceration. To be frank incarceration was the easy part and the biggest challenge was how I was going to reintegrate myself into society once I got home and how I was seen as “enriched uranium” by others. I left federal prison psychologically and emotionally broken, I was a wreck! I was released from federal prison in the summer of 2008 and it took me seven years to deal with the psychological carnage and to obtain inner peace. Looking back at this journey I wish that there would have been a White-Collar Support Group when I got out of prison and my pain curve would not have been so steep. Getting on Jeff’s call was a breath of fresh air as I was able to meet other men and women who had endured the shame and embarrassment of being a convicted felon. Jeff brings a spiritual component to his group which in my opinion is critical as it helps with the healing process. I applaud Jeff for creating this organization as it helps convicted felons who have been ostracized by society in providing ministerial counseling, empathy, compassion and support. I have met some incredible people in this group and I look forward to being an active participant for many years.” – Douglas Mairena, Virginia
When I first joined the White Collar Support Group, I was nervous and not committed. I heard there were other women on the call but they were not on the first couple of calls I was on. I felt anxious as the only person of color on the calls as well as the only woman. Over time, I developed more trust and became more vulnerable to the group. I have never felt pressured to share or be anyone different on these calls. I now look forward to our weekly time because it is the one time a week when I feel whole regardless of whether I am having an “up” day or a “down” day. There is nothing like a shared experience with people who have walked your walk and know exactly what you are talking about. When new people come to the calls, I am eager to put a metaphorical arm around their shoulders and remind them of what they already know but have temporarily forgotten: “You will survive. You will have some up days. You will have some down days but we are all here for you. And…. Yes, you will survive. Life will never be the same again but you will survive. You will discover that you are really an amazing person in the process. You will survive.”
So many people come to the call in a complete state of panic. Their situation is not what they bargained for. They are losing everything they once knew. They want to know how to make it all go away. They want to know how they can regain everything they are afraid of losing. The calls become a place where your entire humanity, not just your mistakes, are affirmed and upheld as valuable. The calls are the one place of refuge where we are reminded that we are NOT, in any way shape or form, our crimes. The calls are one place where our whole humanity is affirmed. We do not give legal advice but we give soul support that helps build resilience. And in the long run, it is a game of resilience.
The best part of these calls over the last couple of years has been taking relationships off-line. I have met several of the men and women that have been on the calls. They are more than friends. They are Anam Cara, the Celtic word for “Soul Friend.” I love our transparency. I love how we are all striving to be our best selves. I love the support and love I receive. I love the celebrations of our successes no matter how small and I love the encouragement I receive when I am down. Most of all, I have turned this into an accountability group. I still wrestle with why I made the poor decisions I made and committed a financial crime. I do not want to be that person. I want to be a person that makes smart decisions. I want to be a person that is fully aware of the ethical impact of my decisions on other people and also on institutions. On the calls, I continue to get help in the areas that I feel the weakest. I know that because of these calls and the support and non-judgment that I receive, that I am able to grow beyond the limitations that my crime has placed on my life. – Anonymous, Georgia
As a practicing attorney in a one-man firm, I took money from my client trust account to help meet business expenses and to keep my own household afloat. Of course, I knew this was wrong and that eventually it would catch up with me. A few months ago it did, so now I am facing a prison sentence of two or three years.
During the months following my indictment I was fortunate enough to find the website created by Jeff Grant as a ministry to non-violent white collar criminals. Jeff is a former attorney, a convicted felon, an ex-convict, and an ordained minister. At a time when it seemed my life lay in ruins I was welcomed into a caring White Collar Support Group of individuals who are facing or, perhaps more importantly, have already faced, terms of imprisonment for crimes like my own. The majority are former convicts who have a true mission to help each other grow back into this world outside, to share the wisdom earned through their experiences and to acknowledge positive aspects of these years.
The group has weekly meetings, on line with real-time video conferencing. Over the past several months I have felt the power of belonging with a very special new set of friends. So much of my experience has isolated me from the community I used to know. Jeff’s group has provided a fellowship of people with whom I related immediately. This resource is also providing me with practical advice as I prepare to enter the prison system. The group inspires me every time we meet. Though I’m not a member of any faith in particular, I know a blessing when I see one. My profound thanks to Jeff and to those who gather here with him. – Anonymous, Maine (currently serving in a state prison)
“Three months or so into dealing with a federal indictment for conspiracy (and wire fraud) in my wife’s Ponzi scheme, I was confused at what I was facing, and scared at the thought of what this would do to my family, especially my youngest children then aged 9 and 11 who were soon to lose both their parents to prison. I remember the first time I spoke to Jeff, I had just dropped off my two at school and was sitting in my car in the Walmart parking lot where I wouldn’t be disturbed. Jeff answered my call and I nervously introduced myself. I realized fairly quickly that this would be someone who could help me find some of the answers I was seeking. We talked for at least 90 minutes that morning, and never once did he rush me off or make me feel I was an inconvenience or my issues were not important. Jeff has helped me in so many ways since that first call. Whether it was discussing how best to talk to my children about our situation, setting up a support system for them both in school and in private counseling, or talking thru the various aspects of dealing with the justice system and what to expect before, during and after. In fact, it was Jeff who suggested that my wife and I should request staggered sentences which the judge’s approved. Since then we’ve talked about life in prison and starting over afterwards, maintaining a marriage while incarcerated, and forgiveness, just to name a few. I value Jeff’s advice because he always gives you a straight answer, you may not always like what he has to say but you can always count on it being true to his experience. And I have found that in the end this is most valuable. Like many people, I fear the unknown, and Jeff helped take away my fear by giving me knowledge. I was, and am, able to make better informed decisions because of it. I am also greatly relieved to know that Jeff and his ministry will be there for me when I am released from prison.” – Bill L., Oklahoma (currently serving in a Federal prison)
“I am writing to express how thankful I am to have found you and your organization. As you are aware from your personal experience the process of being arrested and charged with a crime instantly changes your life. For me what followed over the last 14 months is not something anyone can prepare for or understand how to navigate. Thelack of control and waiting to learn my fate is what disturbs me most. Negative thoughts run through my head on a daily basis. My weekly visits to my therapist does not replace speaking to someone who has been through the process.
When we first spoke I was feeling lost and in a constant state of fear. Finding others that actually understood what I was going through was nearly impossible. Since joining the weekly calls I’m still fearful but no longer feeling alone. You have provided a safe place for people like myself to share their experiences and ask important questions that are of concern. Since participants are generally in various stages of the process (pre or post conviction and incarceration) there seems to be plenty of opportunity for me to gain perspective relating to my situation. This has been a god send.
From day one you made me comfortable in sharing my story and showed care and compassion for what I was dealing with. Right now I am at a critical point in my case where decisions need to be made regarding taking a plea or going to trial. Having the right attorney is critical in deciding which way to go. Fortunately one of the first things you asked when we spoke was who was representing me and you took the time to walk me through the process of learning what I should expect regarding background, and their areas of expertise. This was critical since from the very beginning of my case I felt something was not right with how I was being handled and charged for services. Without your guidance and asking the right questions I would not have been able to pinpoint what my gut was telling me all along. I am now ready to make the change with confidence that it is the right step in getting to the best possible outcome. What is also important is you didn’t force your opinion on me. You shared your knowledge and experience and allowed me to come to the conclusion on my own. So in spite of all of my pain and suffering, knowing that I have people like yourself and your organization to lift me up when I am down is a blessing.” – Keith O., New York
“Where there is hope, there is faith. Where there is faith, miracles happen. In the midst of severe adversity and trauma, a support group that focuses on healing, raising mental health awareness and providing hope for a new chance at life is the miracle that entered into my life. It is clearly evident that Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. is committed to changing and inspiring lives of those who have fallen and are committed to becoming stronger through their failures. I could not be the strong person I am without the intellectual and strong-minded friends who have reinstilled hope and a sense of value in me. They have become like family to me during the most tragic event in my life. Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. is a coalition of forward-thinking individuals and leaders who are committed to lifelong wellness, belonging, and making a true impact in this world. Through this support network, increasing our sense of safety, security and belonging and serving without judgement is made possible. We learn to trust how we feel by sharing our stories. This organization is an essential social support so one does not feel isolated in the worst possible stigmatized situation. Every day we have the choice to support our body and mind’s healing response or undermines it. Being a part of Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. is one of the most important steps I have taken to begin my own healing process while helping others and giving back through the power of human connection. It’s essential to be present “here and now” as I enter into a new life. My failures have allowed me to open up my eyes and see what is most important in life. I couldn’t do it without the genuine compassion and care through the inspirational, spiritual and powerful meetings that bring the power of people together at Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.” – Anonymous, Missouri (currently serving in a Federal prison)
I had the fortunate opportunity to speak with Jeff Grant some months ago. I currently have a situation where I am facing a prison sentence. The terms are still being negotiated as to what type of sentence may occur. However, to navigate through this system can be quite overwhelming and complex. Someone (usually your lawyer) explains the system in a way that you may or may not understand. I have discovered that most people charged with white collar crimes have no idea of the complexity of the criminal justice system. It is so far removed from our daily lives and most of us don’t even know of anyone who may have been accused of this type of criminal activity. Now all of a sudden, we are thrust into a complex legal system of which we have not only no say but no understanding of how it works. What we think of as a logical sequence of events is not how the judicial system works. So, to better understand this complex system, Rev Jeff Grant has worked with me to help me look out for my family and myself as to the possible consequences of each and every move or decision that is made. He helped me understand the ramifications of my decisions as my lawyer presented them to me. I came to understand the long term positive or negative effects of some of the negotiations being made on my behalf by my lawyer.
Needless to say, to attempt to navigate through this interwoven complex system without any guidance or insight, or only though just the lens of your legal counsel, may not be in your best interest. Therefore, Rev Jeff Grant can give you sound advice and from an independent and experienced point of view, keep you grounded, and keep you on the best possible path given the circumstances. His resource pool is phenomenal, as he has assisted people from all walks of life from all over the country. You have nothing to lose by speaking with him and having the opportunity for him and his team to share their insight and wisdom with you. – J.S., New York
“Jeff is my ombudsman – he has been a life saver for me! I unfortunately found myself in “no man’s land” with a young, career oriented prosecutor, a notoriously tough Federal judge, and jaded, but well connected, criminal defense attorneys My case, still ongoing after 3 years, is in a highly complex and technical area of unsettled law where no one seems to actually know (or worse, care) what the law actually is or means. Jeff has been invaluable to me with striking the right balance of pushing my attorneys to do their job, understanding my case, and standing up for me – but not pushing too far and blowing up these delicate negotiations. Jeff has also helped me cope with the broken “justice” system where extreme unfairness, brutality, and incompetence is a daily occurrence. Furthermore, my legal problems have resulted in very complex tax issues. Jeff went above and beyond by finding a possible solution that my expensive tax attorneys missed, but later agreed Jeff’s suggestion was a valid one. My biggest regret is not working with Jeff sooner than I did – I may have not pled guilty if I was working with him from the start. Bottom line – if you have any reservations regarding your attorneys and want an honest assessment from an extremely smart former attorney who really cares about you and isn’t in it just for the money, Jeff Grant has to be the best person in the country for you. I can’t recommend him enough!” – Matt L., Colorado
“Jeff Grant is different. He has a pragmatic, objective understanding of criminal justice issues, and more importantly, he is suffused with a spiritual understanding of the holistic emotional and values-driven issues that affect decision-making & healing through this journey. I sincerely believe that if I had met Jeff early in my case – before I had moved past the point of no return – I would not have pled guilty, the government would not and could not have indicted me, and my life today would be completely different. Equally important, Jeff’s spiritual counsel has helped me re-orient the compass of my life, re-discover my principles and realize my own personal truth. He wears many hats – he is a spiritual counselor, a life coach, a critical thinker (including about the roles of defense attorneys) and most important of all, is a friend.” – Anonymous, Illinois
I heard Jeff Grant on the Rich Roll podcast about a month ago and knew I had to contact him, if nothing else, just to thank him for opening up and helping me realize that there are many others going through difficult situations…many, much worse than mine. I emailed Jeff a day or two after the podcast thanking him, and he responded immediately to let me know I could contact him at any time to discuss my situation. That was an invitation I couldn’t pass up. A day or two later I sent him a long email telling him what i had done, the guilt and shame I felt (on the podcast, Jeff clarifies the difference between guilt and shame, something I hadn’t contemplated before), that I was beating myself up daily for the mistakes I had made.
Once again, Jeff responded immediately with five points: 1. He thanked me for trusting him, 2. He told me he did a lot of the same stuff, 3. He told me there is always a way through, 4. He asked me to join his Monday night support group, telling me it’s the isolation that destroys us, and lastly, 5. he asked me how old my kids were. I immediately felt hope, and took him up on his offer to join the support group.
Approximately 13 years ago I signed someone else’s name to several loan documents as a co-signor, someone very close to me. I knew it was wrong. At the time, I thought I was just signing their name, not wanting to think it was as a co-signor…at least that’s the lie I was telling myself. I have not missed a payment since signing the docs, but that doesn’t take away from my transgression. That was 13 years ago, and not one day has gone by where I haven’t thought about what I did, asking myself how I could have done that. On top of these loans, I piled up more and more debt, to the point of being overwhelmed, I couldn’t see a way out. I was waking up at 1, 2 or 3 times every night, and my mind would immediately go to what I had done. I kept wondering how I could have done this, that I needed to call the lenders and confess what I had done, that I could go to jail, or I could be homeless, what would I do with my belongings, how do I tell my kids and family, what would I do with my cat, and the list goes on. I was literally beating myself up to the point of living with anxiety and being depressed, seeing no way out. I would spend days at work with my head in my hands, looking at co-workers, and telling myself that they would never do something as foolish as what I did…my mind was my prison. The situation kept getting worse as I made some money in an investment and reinvested it in another company, that has since tanked. I have no idea how it will turn out, but once again, I wondered how I could have been so foolish. I now owed the IRS money, and I have to set up a payment plan with them, just one more entity that I owe money to.
Jeff’s email helped me almost immediately, telling me that he did some of the same things I did, there is always a way through, and it’s the isolation that destroys us…those words helped me more than he knows. I still had to dial into that first support group, which was for me a huge step, one I tried to avoid, but knew it was a critical step to help me get through this, and realize that I’m not alone. I kept seeing Jeff’s words: it’s the isolation that destroys us…he was spot on. I’ve sat through three meetings to date and they’ve helped me immensely. Everyone on the call is so supportive. Everyone is at a different timeline in their journey. Some have gone to prison and are now out doing great things. Some are in the early stages of their journey, scared and wondering what the road ahead holds for them. Some talk about how they will be heading to prison shortly, and speak to their fears of the unknown. For these people, and really for all of us, Jeff and those who have spent time in prison, are a great source of encouragement and support. I now realize I’m not alone. I realize we all make mistakes, but we’re still good people, and good things can come from our mistakes. Several in the group speak to the fact that their time in jail has actually given them more focus, and given them direction with life post-incarceration. They all want to serve and help others in some capacity. I realize, like Jeff said, there is always a way through.
Jeff called me the day after my first support group meeting and helped talk me through my situation. He made me realize I have a “business issue”, and gave me guidance on how to handle it. He laid out a course of action and suggested I seek counsel from an attorney in my area, which I did immediately (I had been avoiding this for several years). I’ve followed his similar advice and I know I’m going to be okay. It looks like I will avoid jail time, and I now have a plan on how to “get through” this…as Jeff has pointed out, there is always a way. That being said, the little devil on my shoulder, at times, still want’s to hold me hostage to what I did, so the support group is critical to my healing process.
I’ve attended three meetings, and they’ve become a regular part of my Monday evenings. One last thing that has helped me immensely is saying the Serenity Prayer daily, I cannot change what I did, and I’m much better off accepting my mistakes than beating myself up over them. I cannot change what I did. Thank you Jeff and the Progressive Prison Ministries Team, your support is critical to my healing process. – Anonymous, Ohio
“It was a privilege and a joy to make arrangements to have Jeff Grant come and visit as our special guest preacher and speaker as the capstone to our church’s Opioids and Addiction month of learning and reflection . His journey and his experience speak as powerfully as his words and his presence. It was fantastic that he could come to the church and make the case for his (former) Family ReEntry vocation and volunteerism (inner city), as well as his Progressive Prison Ministries nonprofit (white-collar). Both his ministries are crucial, even as they serve dramatically different groups of people living in dramatically different contexts. In the era of #MeToo, I’m still remembering his words: ‘we have to teach men how to behave better’. His sermon also gave hope to so many in our congregation who are struggling with mental health or addiction issues, whether personally, in their families or among their friends and colleagues. His life makes the case for criminal justice reform. Personally, it was also a joy to have an excuse to get together with my Union Theological Seminary Classmate in person! I remain grateful for Jeff’s journey, commitment, and ministry.” – Rev. John Shellito, Associate Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia
“Jeff Grant is a man who says a resounding yes to hope and transformation. He uses his superb skills of leadership and administration to make a better world. From a very broken personal place, he has learned to become whole and to help others break through to places of compassion and enlightenment. He is a man of ideals, spirituality, and very pragmatic and efficacious business skills. He has an unsentimental empathy for people. His an honest man and a very hard worker.” – Tim Askew, Founder, Corporate Rain International, Weekly Columnist, Inc. Magazine, New York
“I have known & worked on several Committees with Jeff Grant for several years. He has shown himself by his actions to be a man of integrity & honor. His life is devoted to helping others by being an agent of change for Reentry people. As a valuable advisor to our company (Reentry Survivors LLC) we have survived & thrived under his wisdom. Thank you Jeff for stepping up to the plate & always being there when we need you.” – Barry Diamond, Executive Director, Reentry Survivors (P.R.I.D.E. Program), Connecticut
“Jeff was an instrumental leader of our Management Team [at Fresh Start Enterprises] who demonstrated an awesome ‘continuous improvement’ mindset with much success. Jeff was always flexible in working with our team as our schedules and situations varied vastly from one project to another.He was professional, kind, motivated and passionate about his work each and every day that I’ve worked with him. His skills and experiences that he brought to the table were invaluable. Jeff brought creative and innovative techniques to us, especially with regards to his approach on problem solving, marketing/sales strategies, and the accountability he held our team to. I can always remember Jeff bringing ‘inspiring project-presentations’ to our team meetings with his zesty white board and chart displays…I knew when I asked Jeff for support or advice in tricky situations, I would get the best possible assistance and leadership available.” – Walt Cichocki – Reentry Professional, Connecticut
“My agency was hired by Family ReEntry, where Jeff is the Executive Director. What started as a client relationship quickly became one of professional respect and personal friendship. It’s nearly impossible not to enjoy working with Jeff; his incredible knowledge, intellect and passion for his work is infectious. An incredibly hard worker, Jeff is an inspiration and amazing leader, particularly in the nonprofit sector where he flourishes right now. Its been an incredible experience to work with Jeff; we learn from each other everyday. I consider myself very fortunate to work with Jeff, and anyone who has the chance to know him and/or work with him, would feel the same.” – Greg Walsh, Owner, Walsh Public Relations, Connecticut
“It has been a pleasure to work for and alongside Jeff. His thought leadership and drive are matched only by his passion – clearly evidenced by a legacy of deep and wide relationships and ongoing commitment in criminal justice. I have personally viewed Jeff’s impact in that world, working together at increasing brand awareness both as his role as Executive Director of Family ReEntry and Prisonist.org, and through his developed programs, presentations, interviews, and public appearances.” – David Riss, Managing Member, Greyskye Marketing Consultants LLC, Connecticut
Link to information about our White Collar/Nonviolent Support Group here.
Link to Contact Info & Appointments.