Jim Buffington, Bridges to Life

  • February 20, 2019
  • 12:00 PM
  • Weiss Auditorium, Methodist Hospital Dallas, Education Building

Jim Buffington is the Chief Operating Officer for Bridges To Life and resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Bridges To Life (BTL) is a Texas-based nonprofit organization that provides a restorative justice program centered on victim impact to incarcerated offenders. Along with exploring concepts from confession to restitution in our 14-week curriculum, offenders also hear firsthand from victims of crime and face the true impact of their actions on others. Through this unique process, offenders experience a change of heart that lays the groundwork for making positive changes in their lives. Starting with 41 inmates graduates in one Texas prison in 1999, more than 42,000 men and women have graduated from the BTL program.  We are in 12 other states and 6 foreign countries.  

BTL is a nationally recognized program; the organization and many of its volunteers have received numerous awards, including the Judith Coleman Chaplaincy Offender Program of the Year Award given by the American Correctional Chaplains Association (ACCA) in 2015. This prestigious national award is presented to the prison program deemed most creative, effective, and outcome-based in the United States each year. Most recently, BTL Founder and CEO John Sage was chosen from over 20,000 Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) volunteers to receive the 2017 Carol Vance TDCJ Volunteer of the Year Award.

Jim is a native Texan, born in Houston, and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a BSBA degree in Marketing Management.  Jim's 30 year business career was in Financial/Legal Services and Aerospace. Jim and his wife, Marilyn, who is an elementary school teacher, have one son, Bryce, who is a pricing analyst and a Bridges to Life volunteer.

At the age of 12, Jim Buffington’s mother was found murdered in the back seat of her car. The devastation to the family was indescribable. A year later, while still working through his grief, he was dealt another blow. His father and two other men were arrested and incarcerated for the conspiracy of his mother’s murder. Jim was to suffer yet another betrayal later in life when he discovered that the original murder conspiracy included his two brothers and himself.

Through this incredible journey, Jim has experienced both sides of the criminal justice system – as a child of a victim of crime and as a child of an offender on death row. Jim journeyed a long road of pain and betrayal that would lead most to a life withdrawn and full of bitterness. Jim chose another path however, one of healing and forgiveness. In his volunteer work, he has helped many victims of crime, as well as offenders, down that path to healing and forgiveness. Because of his unique experiences, he has an insight into the feelings of the offenders’ families that most of us cannot relate to. Jim is able to connect with the offenders and he helps them to better understand the effects their choices have had on their families and society.

Jim started volunteering with Bridges To Life in 2004 and then joined the staff in 2016. He also volunteers as a Victim Impact Panel Speaker for: Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim Services, Dallas County Probation, Texas Youth Commission, Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department and Tarrant County Juvenile Services in Fort Worth.  Jim is a Royal Famly Kid's camp counselor and Board Member for Trinity Kids, Inc, Board member for Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation, volunteer with Bill Glass Prison Ministry and an active member of Fielder Church in Arlington, Texas.  Jim received the Texas Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer of the Year Service Award in 2008 and the Dallas Cowboys Community Quarterback Award for Volunteer Service in 2007.

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