We believe that warm, nurturing friendship is a basic need of all people and is the catalyst that promotes healing of offenders.
We reach out to involve them in strong healthy relationships that offer hope.

PRISON VISITATION

I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Mathew 25:36

Micah staff and volunteers meet with prisoners through two programs:
Person2Person and Forward Step (inside)


Person2Person (P2P)

p2pPerson2Person is a friendship-based visitation program inside prison. The program seeks to restore offenders to wholeness and to the community.

Volunteer visitors are matched with prisoners for the purpose of establishing and modeling healthy friendships. Typically the ratio is one volunteer to one inmate. Sometimes a couple (such as a husband/wife team) will visit the inmate.

Prisoners in Prince Albert (Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Riverbend) and in Saskatoon (Regional Psychiatric Centre) may apply for visits through P2P co-ordinators in these institutions.  Prisoners not receiving visits from family or friends are eligible to be matched up with a friend through P2P.

The frequency and times of P2P visits and social events vary from one institution to the next.  Prisoners experience respect, acceptance and friendship to counteract the isolation and loneliness in prison.

Does P2P Work?

The answer is ‘yes’. In 2005, P2P had a formal evaluation conducted of its prisoner visitation program at Saskatchewan Penitentiary.  The outcome was very positive, affirming the P2P work.  Below are excerpts from participants from this evaluation:

“For these people to come in here and visit us in prison, it is a big gift – a little piece of heaven.”image inmate on phone

“The visits help me feel more human than I was feeling – it has helped me turn my life around – no more suicide attempts.”

“The visits have a calming effect I guess – I can have a bad temper but I have to learn to keep it under control in here so I don’t miss a visit.”

“It is good to have a ‘real’ conversation.  Lots of guys in here are lonely and angry.  They let the institution get them down.  A lot of people need someone to know they care about them to break down some of the walls.  The isolation can get to you and increase the anger.”

“Anything that’s positive we try and hold on to.  We delve ourselves into it.  When we need happy thoughts, then it’s about the visits, especially these people who are in long-term and don’t get visitors.”

Do the Visits Impact Recidivism?

In a study of 16,400 prisoners, released from Minnesota’s correctional system between 2003 and 2007, Grant Duwe, Director of Research for Minnesota’s Department of Corrections, evaluated the relationship between prisoner visits and recidivism. He found that inmates who get regular visits are 13 percent less likely to wind up back in prison because of new felonies and 25 percent less likely to commit probation violations that would put them back behind bars.  (click here for MNPrisonVisitationStudy)


Forward Step (inside)

Forward Step (inside) is also a visitation program.  Staff and volunteers visit with small groups of prisoners at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.  Volunteers facilitate a course on restorative justice for inmates.  Our objectives are:

  • increased sensitivity to indigenous people,
  • shared learning, and
  • empowerment.

History of P2P and Forward Step

Person2Person originated as a program owned and operated by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, a conference of approximately 35 congregations affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada, and formerly known as the Conference of Mennonites of Saskatchewan. It began in the Prince Albert region in the 1970’s.saskatoon correctional centre2

The purpose of P2P was to engage the conference churches in the justice ministry of the church through  prisoner visitation in the federal penitentiary in Prince Albert. The efforts were in keeping with Christ’s words “I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Mat 25).  The focus was more on visiting prisoners who did not already receive visits.  It also included work with released offenders, and over time, it expanded to become involved with Circles of Support and Accountability.

The Saskatoon program of P2P was organized around volunteer visitation with inmates at both the Regional Psychiatric Centre and the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, beginning in 1981. This P2P work expanded into the Forward Step program to include relating to the offenders upon their release.