"I was in prison and you visited me... Jesus wants to be taken seriously. Matt 25:36-40
By writing to an inmate you can be a positive influence in their life which is often bleak. You can help in the process of rehabilitation. There can be little rehabilitation until there is a regeneration of the spirit. The love you share through letters can bring the healing presence of Christ to your inmate pen pal.
If you believe that any prisoner, regardless of their crime, is worthy of the love and forgiveness of God, then you may have the spiritual foundation to be a pen pal.
In order to write effective letters that can help your inmate friend, be aware that most prisoners have suffered from drug, alcohol, sex addictions, or mental illness. Many have spent their entire lives in an environment of abuse and poverty. Prisoners are among the most rejected in our society. But they are also our brothers and sisters in Christ, equally worthy of redemption.
To prisoners isolated from family, friends and the outside world, time drags on. Try to write regularly and give a prompt reply to every letter you receive. It's not uncommon that you could be the only person on the outside who ever contacts them. Occasionally send a colorful card to cheer them up.
Being incarcerated devastates a person's self-worth. Highlight your friend's talents and good qualities. Don't dwell on past crimes. Assume the role of an encouraging friend, remembering that a little praise goes a long way in restoring a sense of self-worth.
The Prisoner Pen Pal Ministry is an integral part of the Restorative Justice Ministry
We require that you fill out an application and study our guidelines which provide an indepth description of the Pen Pal Ministry. Upon receipt of your signed application, your name is matched with an inmate from an institution in the Lansing Diocese. You will receive a letter from us with your prisoner pen pal's name and address. Your inmate correspondent is then told that he has been matched and that a Christian friend will be writing soon. Your name and address are not given to the inmate. This allows you to write and introduce yourself. We encourage you to write within 30 days.
To register as a volunteer for the Diocese of Lansing Pen Pal Ministry, dowload the application form here. Click submit after completeing the form, or print out and mail to:
Restorative Justice Ministry
228 North Walnut Street
Lansing, MI 48933