Educating Others

Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) – Red & Black Program

In the fall of 2012, the chaplain at Stringfellow Unit, a men's prison in Rosharon, Texas, (30 miles south of Houston) championed a pilot "Red & Black Personal Finance & Life 101" prison program that was structured as a book study. Copies of our book, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, were provided to the two pilot groups totaling just over 50 men.

Upon completion of the program, the men were given a three page questionnaire. Based on the feedback from the participants, TDCJ asked us, along with the chaplain, to present the program to ALL of their chaplains at their regional meetings. We talked about our unusual journey as our book had been intended as the basis of a sitcom, yet instead of going to Hollywood, it detoured into the world of education, and now prisons. The chaplain shared her insight and perspective on not only how easy the program is to implement and run, but the amazing feedback and results she has seen firsthand, and the potential it has to change lives – not only of the participants, but also their families.

The program is now expanding throughout TDCJ as chaplains, as well as offenders, are requesting the program. (For example, shortly after one pilot program of approximately 30 men began, there was a waiting list of over 300 men. At another facility, one offender who had transferred from a unit that offered our program requested that it be introduced at his new unit.) The program is in over 30 percent of the TDCJ units. In addition, the program is now being offered at parole offices, and there is increasing interest from TDCJ employees for the program.

TDCJ Chaplaincy Manual

For a copy of the Red & Black section developed for the Chaplaincy Training Manual provided to TDCJ Chaplains during the fall 2017 First Annual Chaplaincy Leadership Forum, which includes a program overview as well as other documents (some of which are linked elsewhere on this webpage), click here.

TDCJ Program "Paperwork"

  • TDCJ Book Request Form: For those TDCJ units wanting to begin a pilot program, please complete the following form: click here. (Black will attempt to secure donations for all pilot programs, but any assistance the units can provide in identifying potential donors would be greatly appreciated.)
  • TDCJ Red & Black Volunteer Form: All potential volunteers need to do to start the process is to complete our form (click here), and we will take it from there.
  • Follow-Up Questionnaire: Once a program is completed, we request that the participants fill out an easy-to-use, three page questionnaire – not only to provide feedback, but also to help show the results of the program to potential underwriters. To access the form, click here.

Financial Support

Unfortunately, although the Chaplaincy Department fully supports the program, they do not have money in their budget to cover its cost of $25 per person. However, Black has been able to find some very generous donors who have supported programs at various facilities, and we are hoping that over time additional feedback will help the State see the need to fund the program.

To put it in perspective: there are over 100 TDCJ prisons in Texas and approximately 150,000 prisoners. If all of them were to participate in the program, the cost would be $3.75 million, and could not happen in a single year. The total operating budget for TDCJ is over $3 BILLION per year, so this program would basically be a rounding error!

To see how your generosity can make a difference, we invite you to read our e-blast, "Can $10 Change A Life?" And then consider making a donation:

  • Purchase Books For TDCJ: To purchase a gift certificate in whatever amount you would like that will then be redeemed for books by the Chaplaincy Department of TDCJ, please click here.
  • Tax Deductible Bulk Purchases: For contributions of at least $500 (20 books), TDCJ will provide donors with a letter of acknowledgement for the full value of their donation which can be used for tax purposes. If you, or your church/company/organization would like to do this, please contact Black at Black@RedandBlackBooks.com.
  • Purchase A Book For Your Own Use: Consider purchasing a book for yourself or as a gift. We will donate $5 of each book purchased toward books for the Chaplaincy Department of TDCJ when you use this link: click here.