Program helping Lackawanna County inmates coming to Scranton church

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A church in Lackawanna County is looking at starting a re-entry program for inmates.

Its goal is to teach lessons useful for life after prison. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scranton is more than a place of worship. It’s also a place of healing.

“What we’re looking to do is offer a program that will give folks a chance to get back on their feet in society,” Reverend Rebecca Barnes of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church said.

Barnes is working to bring Cypress House Bakery to her church. Using the tools she has now, an industrial kitchen will be a temporary place for current and recently released inmates to make and sell sandwiches for take-out, while earning $15 an hour.

“Because of the level of incarceration in our county, there is a great need for programs when people come out of the prison system,” Barnes said.

Barnes got the idea from Father Greg Boyle of Los Angeles, who founded Homeboy Industries. Eyewitness News had the opportunity to interview him in 2018 about his gang intervention and rehabilitation program.

While the preliminary bakery is upstairs, the future of the church will be downstairs of the church. Through donations, an old craft room will be renovated into a non-profit commercial bakery.

For future customers, this will be where the inmates sell their goods. In all, the project is expected to cost $300,000, which includes a year’s worth of operating costs. The church is in a centralized location in downtown Scranton. Easy access to the courthouse if a former inmate has a court date.

“We’ll make sure they can leave and they can go for that appointment and then return back to work,” Barnes said.

The only requirement for this job? You must have a criminal history. The project is expected to be finished sometime in the spring. Once it’s completed, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will hire five inmates to start, who will work with a master baker.

If you would like to donate to the project, monetary donations can be sent to: 232 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503. Please write “Cypress Home Bakery” in the memo line.

You can also call 570-342-7654 to donate.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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