Frequently Asked Questions
Why help prisoners who have committed crimes? Can the community benefit?
Transforming prisoners and reforming the criminal justice system is a fundamental step towards international community development. Prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families are often dismissed as members of civil society, with little regard to the damaging effect this neglect has on communities as a whole.
Prisons all over the world are filled with hundreds of thousands of inmates who will someday be released back into their communities. Numerous studies indicate that nearly 70 percent of released prisoners will commit another offence and return to prison within three years. Prisoners are hidden away from society during their sentence, but upon release they will either impact their community for better or worse. This is why it is crucial that prisons be truly rehabilitative.
PFI restorative justice programs work for the true rehabilitation of inmates. The result of these efforts creates safer communities by the conversion of ex-offenders into peacemakers.
Prison Fellowship International believes that sustainable personal change is made possible through Jesus Christ. PFI believes that all people have value and are loved by God. PFI reaches out to the marginalized men and women in prisons to stimulate lasting transformation within prisoners so they can contribute to their families, communities, and societies.
How do individual ministries operate?
PFI has chartered ministries in over 110 countries worldwide, representing every region in the world. PFI is a unique, successful, and sustainable non-profit ministry as each PF national ministry is self-governed, self-funded and volunteer-based. This structure allows for each national ministry to serve the prison and justice community with the autonomy and creativity that is most effective in each respective culture.
What do Prison Fellowship organizations do for people affected by crime?
Outreach: PF ministries provide a variety of in-prison services which include prison visitation, in-prison Bible studies, seminars, mentoring, educational training, work-skills and life-skills training, and counseling.
Aid distribution: Prisoners in developing nations are often not given basic necessities such as food and clothing. In such countries PF national ministries provide aid to prisoners in such a way that offers them the incentive to generate sustainable growth in prison and upon release.
Medical care: With the help of volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists and optometrists, Prison Fellowship ministries are helping to care for prisoners who do not have access to medical care. PFI’s Global Assistance Program mobilizes volunteer medical personnel to provide medical treatment to suffering prisoners around the world and offer technical assistance that leads to long-term and sustained solutions in the prisons.
Families: PFI believes that family members of the incarcerated must also be cared for. Often, families are left in desperate economic situations with the main breadwinner in prison. In this situation PF offers aid to inmates’ children through the Angel Tree programme, provides counseling to family members, and also offers tangible help by providing necessary resources.
Victims: Victims of crime are often neglected as they suffer from the pain of being wronged. PF utilizes restorative justice practices to help victims come to a place of reconciliation after a crime has been committed against them. Volunteers work closely with the offenders to repair the harm committed against the victim.
What service does PFI provide PF ministries?
As an association, PFI provides support services to member organizations through its secretariat offices in Washington, D.C., Singapore and Switzerland. PFI member services include organizational and program consultation, communications, leadership training, program development, humanitarian relief projects and organizing international forums.
PFI provides expertise and assistance to PF national affiliates as they address justice issues in their countries, and develops and promotes the use of restorative justice around the world. In addition, PFI assists emerging PF leaders in developing spiritual leadership and management skills. A world-class programme resource database is also available to national ministries featuring programmes such as scripture studies, micro-enterprise, and family support.
Find out more about PFI services here:
What is “restorative justice?”
Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior. Practices and programs reflecting restorative justice will respond to crime by identifying and taking steps to repair harm, involving all parties, and transforming the traditional relationship between communities and their governments in responding to crime.
PFI has developed internationally recognized expertise in restorative justice and also operates the largest resource website on restorative justice. In this capacity, PFI consults directly with governments and NGOs, offering training, consultation and strategic planning to incorporate restorative justice into various justice systems.