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.
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 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.”
“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