ARCH is an outreach project to help meet the needs of individuals who have been incarcerated, also referred to as returning or restored citizens. We aim to assist local faith communities in becoming welcoming spaces that provide essential support services to returning citizens on their road to reintegration and healing. This project also aids those who serve returning citizens to live out their faith with works of compassion and mercy. ARCH does not discriminate in who we assist or limit our service to any denomination or tradition. We seek to support persons on their reentry regardless of faith affiliation.
Returning citizens have paid their debt to society in terms of serving time in jail or prison. Despite this, they continue to face monumental challenges to becoming active members of their community. These challenges often result in unemployment, homelessness, collateral sanctions instituted by public policy, mental health treatment needs, and family life issues. The effects of criminal behavior and incarceration are major contributors to poverty in our community. ARCH is working to equip local faith communities to welcome and walk with returning citizens on their journey.
The ARCH program includes elements surfaced by a Returning Citizens Working Group that was convened in 2016 by the Columbus Catholic Diocese Office for Social Concerns and Vincentian Ohio Action Network, which included prison ministers, formerly incarcerated leaders, and community partners actively meeting to address reentry needs. The ARCH program was formally launched in Winter 2017 with the sponsorship of the Catholic Diocese Office for Social Concerns and St. Vincent de Paul, via the Vincentian Ohio Action Network, with seed funding provided by The Catholic Foundation. ARCH also receives funding from Franklin County Board of Commissioners Justice Policy and Programs and collaborates with many other networks and groups in the community, including All in Community, a reentry program from the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church and various other interfaith and community-based reentry projects.