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By permission of the author, NYCHS presents these excerpts from Father Pierre Raphael's Inside Rikers Island: A Chaplain's Search for God. He retains the copyright and reserves all rights thereunder. Fr. Raphael is spiritual director of Abraham House helping inmates, ex-inmates and their families.

Abraham House was founded in 1993 by three Rikers Island chaplains and Department of Correction personnel.

Though the founders include a French worker priest and Catholic nuns, Abraham House is non-denominational.

The initial goal of Abraham House was to break the cycle of recidivism with a demanding residential program that serves no more than a dozen offenders at a time. These are required to finish high school education, be counseled on their problems, take responsibility, get a job and keep it.

A Family Center was added for men, women and children caught up in the criminal justice system.