Step 1: review what programs the jail already has

A first step to review what programs are in place and how to confirm if they truly exist in the way they are presented.

9/17/20231 min read

To start, go to the website of the jail or prison and see if there is information regarding a restorative justice or prison ministry. Alternatively, find the phone number for the local jail or prison, ask for the defendant and inmate services coordinator, and ask him or her what the protocol is for being allowed to do jail and prison ministry. He or she may also be able to give you a list of religious and other organizations with existing programs.

Keep in mind, the ministry programs described on the website may not actually exist or may be underserving defendants and inmates. The only way to know for sure is to participate in them repeatedly to confirm in person what services are actually being provided.

If the information is not on the website, or is not very clear, ask for it to be improved.

You may need to be very specific in accountability: ask for a date of completion in writing and find out to whom to report it until it gets done.

You may need to find partners to help provide leverage to insist the information be provided in writing and on accountability.

If your church, synagogue or temple has a prison ministry, participate in it while researching what other faith communities are actually doing, not what they claim to be doing: review the work being done honestly, and, if necessary, skeptically. Then, if necessary, do something about it!