Prison Fellowship

Founded by former Nixon aide Chuck Colson in 1976, Prison Fellowship is the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families.

Prison Fellowship has:

  • Programs in some 1,370 correctional facilities, reaching some 220,000 prisoners in the U.S.
  • Partnerships with 7,700 partner churches in the United States
  • Some 14,000 volunteers throughout the United States
  • An annual budget of approximately $40 million for its U.S. ministries

Based on the premise that at the heart of every criminal act is a destructive moral decision, Prison Fellowship knows that, by working together, governments, communities, and churches can:

  • Bring crime statistics down
  • Help restore shattered lives and families
  • Reduce the staggering costs of crime to society
  • Make communities safer

In this effort, Prison Fellowship provides ongoing support, recruitment, research, training, and resources to some 7,700 churches throughout the United States that are involved in organized prison ministry. It also works with thousands more individual volunteers who are active in an outreach to the prison population or inmate families. Prison Fellowship volunteers, minister to prisoners, assist families, help ex-prisoners transition back into society and advocate for criminal justice reform.

Prison Fellowship programs reach prisoners, ex-prisoners, and families of prisoners in all 50 states and in 110 countries worldwide.

More than two million people are serving time in America’s prisons. Some 700,000 offenders are released back into society each year. Studies show that 67 percent of these released inmates will be re-arrested within three years and more than 50 percent will return to prison.

Participation by prisoners in multiple in-prison Bible studies conducted by Prison Fellowship reduced their recidivism by 66 percent (Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’ Justice Quarterly). Similarly, New York Theological Seminary’s 12-year study of an in-prison seminary program at Sing Sing showed a similar 60 percent reduction in recidivism.

In addition, an evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, a voluntary faith-based prisoner rehabilitation program launched by Prison Fellowship, found that of the inmates who completed this program, only 17 percent returned to prison after two years, compared to a 35 percent return rate for inmates who were eligible for the program but did not participate. (The Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council, January 2003)

A 2003 University of Pennsylvania study found that graduates of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative in Texas were 50 percent less likely to be re-arrested and 60 percent less likely to be re-incarcerated, compared to the matched comparison group.


Prison Fellowship – the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families – includes the following programs and ministries:

  • In-prison seminars, educational training, Bible studies and mentoring – Prison Fellowship supports volunteers in conducting Bible studies, seminars and other events for some 220,000 prisoners in the U.S. Mentors from the local church community are trained by Prison Fellowship to support and guide incarcerated men and women as they seek spiritual, emotional and practical growth.
  • Justice Fellowship – The criminal justice reform affiliate of Prison Fellowship serves as an advocate for prisoners’ rights and supports a restorative approach to crime: biblically based, common-sense reforms of the criminal justice system that help victims heal, hold offenders accountable, reconcile victims and offenders and work to restore peace to communities.
  • Angel Tree® – To provide a more hopeful future to 2.7 million U.S. children who have an incarcerated parent, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree is a year-round program that works with children of prisoners and their families through thousands of local churches. Angel Tree reaches hundreds of thousands of children each Christmas and sends more than 10,000 children to summer camp each year. Currently, some 2,200 children are involved in mentoring relationships through Angel Tree.
  • InnerChange Freedom Initiative® – Prison Fellowship provides programming, management and staffing support to this voluntary, faith-based prisoner rehabilitation program, which has been proven to dramatically reduce re-arrest rates among participating inmates. Three values-based InnerChange Freedom Initiative programs operate in Texas and Minnesota.

Prison Fellowship Ministries