Jail and Prison Ministry

Is God calling you to jail or prison ministry? Is He calling you to mentor a prison inmate?  There are 75 counties in Arkansas, and each of them have at least a city or county jail. The state prison system has units in almost every area of the state. 

There are over 50,000 people on parole in Arkansas.  Mentors for re-entry are needed in every county.

How do you get involved? 

City or County Jail

Contact your local city or county jail and ask if they have a jail ministry or jail chaplain’s program.  Find out who is in leadership, contact them and determine what is needed for you to get involved.  (application, background check, experience level, etc.)

Prison System

Most of the larger prison unites have a full-time, state paid chaplain.  Arkansas Department of Correction units have several levels of volunteerism.  Contact your local prison chaplain and find out their needs and application process.  See the map of prison facilities and contact information HERE.

Mentor a State Prisoner BEFORE or AFTER Release

In today’s society, we generally do not have the kind of relationships that many would see as God ordained – relationships that foster our growth, hold us accountable, and encourage us to press toward healthy goals. The primary reason mentoring is desperately needed today is to supply positive relationships that are lacking in our culture. 

The Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) Re-entry team is asking faith groups in our towns to help inmates re-enter society and become productive citizens.  Some 95% of those in prison will one day re-enter society.  The process includes:

  1. Volunteers that mentor an inmate inside prison regularly during the last 6 months of that person’s incarceration
  2. Volunteers that mentor outside prison when the inmate is released; this includes individual mentors and "communities of care"
  3. Assisting the inmate with job help; the outside mentor/community of care may or may not be involved.
  4. Church engagement – helping the ex-offended become part of a local church

The ADC re-entry team provides full training for inside and outside mentors.  Those who are preparing to return to society need loving mentors who will demonstrate right living, help them break the strongholds of their former lifestyles, hold them accountable for their actions, and walk with them as they rebuild new lives.

A very high majority of prisoners and ex-prisoners come from fragmented families. Consider these general statistics about the family background of offenders:

· For the majority of their childhood, 50 percent were raised by a single-parent – usually the mother.
· An additional 15 percent were raised by another relative, in a foster home, or in an institution.
· At least 25 percent were raised by a parent or guardian who was a substance abuser.

Approximately 15 percent of male and 55 percent of female prisoners were physically or sexually abused as children; for those raised in foster homes, the numbers rise to 44 percent of men and 87 percent of women.

There is an obvious need today for believers to be committed to mentoring ex-offenders. Other factors that point to the dire need for mentors are:

· The high level of dysfunctional families within the ex-offender population due to rising rates of divorce, addictive behaviors, violence, and abandonment
· The substance abuse history of 70 to 85 percent of those convicted of crimes
· The low level of education and lack of job skills of those coming out of prison
· The long-term effects of isolation and institutionalization upon prisoners

Are you interested?

Contact Bob Fielding at bfielding@absc.org