Religious content on tablets helps incarcerated individuals prepare for reentry

Securus Technologies’ "Improving Lives From the Inside Out" profile series part five.

John Repel feels positive the religious content will lead him to a successful reentry.
John Repel feels positive the religious content will lead him to a successful reentry. (Photo/Securus Technologies)

DALLAS — In the fifth installment of the profile series, “Improving Lives From the Inside Out,” the story features interviews with incarcerated individuals who have been empowered with betterment programs, educational technology and communication tools provided by Securus Technologies to help prepare for successful reintegration to society upon release. This fifth edition focuses on John Repel and Adrian Villegas who are incarcerated individuals at The Kendall County Sheriff's Office in Illinois.

They feel a higher power is giving them a second chance at life. Their inspiration is delivered to them through complimentary religious programming provided by Securus Technologies SecureView Tablet. Repel explains how the content will help reduce recidivism.

“The faith programs on the tablet are preparing me from staying away from drugs, gangs and violence. Usually, when I get out of an institution, the process starts all over again, and I’m back in handcuffs, back in the old neighborhood,” he reflected.

However, Repel feels positive the religious content will lead him to a successful reentry.

“Now, that I have God, this time, what is going to be with me is the consequence of my actions. I will have the power to do the right thing, to be a good influence on my children and inspire them. They will see my right path, and I will have a positive impact,” he said.

Securus Technologies offers a variety of faiths in its religious programming to better serve diverse populations on its tablets for incarcerated individuals. Religious resources include ebooks, teachings, audios and videos provided by the SecureView Tablet.

When it comes to the jail environment, Sheriff Dwight Baird appreciates the peace and quiet as a result of the tablet programming.

“The jail noise is down. Folks are not yelling at one another. People aren’t arguing about what they want to watch on TV. They’re focused on the community tablet,” he stated.

Just as the sheriff remembers those chaotic times, so does Repel.

“I was short-tempered. I didn’t care about people or their property,” Repel said. “But now, religious programming on the tablets helps me be a more positive person. Religion has given me compassion for others.”

Repel goes on to say that his faith makes him feel content, free of anxiety, and accepting of others.

“I used to have negativity with the staff and my peers, but my faith has changed that,” he added. “My attitude with my family is also brightened.”

He explains the religious programming on the SecureView Tablet has opened him up to building relationships.

“I’m not selfish anymore. I understand everyone may be going through something difficult. Faith makes me want to help others,” he explained.

As Repel has found the Light through his experiences on the tablet, he would like the opportunity to have a platform to share his faith with others.

“I would like to make the world a better place. My whole life I invested in wrong things and caused pain for my family. Once I got a tablet that changed. I use it to start my day to get a positive attitude,” he stated.

Repel explains incarcerated individuals who have shared their feelings on religious content with others at the jail have built special connections.  

“I felt excited and positive after I watch faith programs on the tablets. Religion inspires others to watch this programming as well. They’re like, ‘Hey listen to this.’ It has resulted in religious camaraderie,” Repel said. “Here, it’s not common to share feelings. So now, we discuss issues in a positive manner.”

Sitting on the bunks and asking questions of the other incarcerated individuals is an important way for Villegas to communicate what he has learned from the religious content.

“I shared the programming on the tablets with two other guys in the dorm. The sermons deliver a positive message. Now, we’re all talking more often, sharing more,” Villegas said. “I like to ask them, ‘What thoughts come to mind? What did you learn?’”

As he prepares for reentry, he states that faith gives him a positive outlook on life. Villegas wants to share his challenges prior to rediscovering religion on the SecureView Tablet, in hopes that others will not lose faith and still have hope. His early days of incarceration were spent in bed, not eating, and in his words “wasting the day.”

“The religious videos on the tablets helped me a lot. I felt different, filled with hope and a sense of purpose,” Villegas stated. “Now I know my reason for living is my family. I know I can be somebody in life and move forward, be successful and don’t look back.”

He concludes by saying he feels his new way of thinking will lead him to go to school, get a job and spend more time with his family.

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