New transitional house aims to give men out of prison a fresh start

When Andy Crook got out of prison, he had nowhere to turn.

“I didn’t have anyone to teach me what i needed to do to get back on my feet,” Crook says.

Now he’s that teacher, the director at the House of Joshua. It’s a transitional living house on NW Van Buren Street, with enough room for 12 men.

“I’ll help them find employment whether it’s using the internet or finding connections out in the community, I’ll teach them to budget and we’ll have spiritual meetings almost every night of the week,” Crook says.

No crime is too extreme for the house, as long as there is a clear desire to lead a Christian-based life free of smoking, drugs and alcohol.

“We have people that are applicants that are murderers, that have been in for 40 years, we have sex offenders,” Crook says.

“If their heart’s in the right place, there are no problems,” says President of the house, Marshall Madill. “If there heart’s not in the right place, it’ll drive them crazy and they won’t last here very long.”

Some residents in the area say they have some concerns about the house being in their street.

“If I was a community member I would probably have concerns too,” Crook says, “Not knowing the guys, not knowing the situation. But once we start cleaning up the house, meeting neighbors, going into the community, going to the churches, I think it’ll ease their minds knowing that these are good guys.”

Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts says there’s a need for mentors and programs like this one.

“We know that 95% of the offenders that go to prison are going to be released,” Roberts says, “And why not do it in such a way that it could be a safe and successful venture for everybody concerned?”

Men who are interested in staying at the House of Joshua have to go through an application and interview process. Those who are chosen are required to attend church every week and find a mentor.

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