To take refuge in the Buddha means acknowledging the seed of enlightenment that is within ourselves, the possibility of freedom. It also means taking refuge in those qualities which the Buddha embodies; qualities like fearlessness, wisdom, love and compassion.
Taking refuge in the Dharma means taking refuge in the law, in the way things are; it is acknowledging our surrender to the truth, allowing the Dharma to unfold within us.
Taking refuge in the Sangha means taking support in the community, in all of us helping one another towards enlightenment and freedom.
(From my work at Fox Lake, Red Granite & New Lisbson Correctional Institutions with the Sanghas' )