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Prison Ministry and Correctional Services Image

Prison Ministry and Correctional Services

"Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" Hebrews 13:3

Are you or is someone you know currently incarcerated and needing hope?

Contact your Salvation Army for Prison Ministry and Reentry Services.

On Dec. 16, 2010, Lieutenant Johnathan Herzog sat in his cold jail cell in Tacoma, Washington, with little hope. He had been sentenced to six years in prison for shooting out his neighbor's window and nearly killing another human being. He was despondent, empty, and tired of life. 

Far from unique, Johnathan was facing what more than a million adults across the United States experience every day. In fact, there were 1,204,300 people incarcerated at the end of 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics

More alarming is that incarceration may not be a one-time event as evidenced by the recidivism rates among people in state prison. Recidivism refers to the act of a person who is rearrested for a similar offense after having served their initial penalty. According to a July 2021 Bureau of Justice Statistics report on recidivism

  • Of the people who were incarcerated and released in 34 states in 2012, nearly two-thirds (62%) were rearrested within three years, and nearly three-fourths (71%) were rearrested within five years. 
  • Nearly half of the people incarcerated who were released in 2012 were returned to prison for parole or probation violations or given a new sentence in five years. 
  • Eighty-one percent of people serving prison time who were 24 years old or younger in 2012 were arrested again within five years, compared to 74% of those ages 25 to 39 and 61% of those over 39 years old. 

Help The Salvation Army provide hope to those who are experiencing life in prison

The Salvation Army Prison Ministry Provides Hope and Spiritual Comfort to Those Serving Time

Adapting to the daily grind of prison was harrowing for Johnathan, who felt discouraged and fearful in a population where many had done time before only to become reincarcerated and are now serving longer sentences. It was a hard place for him to find the inspiration and motivation to attempt to get his life back on track. He once even landed in solitary confinement for fighting. 

And then he discovered The Salvation Army's Prison Ministry Bible Correspondence Courses. 

Depending on the correctional facility, The Salvation Army offers a variety of resources to people encountering the criminal justice system. Bible Correspondence Courses, like the one Johnathan begin participating in, is one of those resources, which provides students with knowledge of the Bible and insight into their life's purpose and meaning. 

These courses are divided into four types and are available in Spanish and English versions. 

  • The Reflective Course series is designed to help people in their relationship with God through an interactive journaling format. Titles in this series include: 
    • Beginning Your Journey         
    • Considering Change         
    • Taking the Next Step         
    • On the Path         
    • Carrying On 
  • The Introductory Course series helps people to understand the gospel in context through preamble Bible study and personal reflection. Titles in this series include: 
    • Introductory Course I (Forgiveness, Prayer, and Reflective) 
    • Introductory Course II (Grace, Love, and Reflective) 
    • Introductory Course III (Trust, Faith, and Reflective) 
    • Introductory Course IV — Prayer (The lesson is using the "31 Days of Prayer" book as assigned reading and referenced Bible verses within each chapter of the book to gain the habit of properly and naturally communicating with God.) 
  • The Basic Course series are theme-based. Titles in this series include: 
    • The Life of Christ (12 lessons) 
    • TheChristian Life (12 lessons) 
    • The Early Church (12 lessons) 
    • Early Beginnings (12 lessons) 
    • History of a Nation (12 lessons) 
    • Survey Course (18 lessons) 
  • The Advance Course includes brief studies based on important theological themes like: 
    • The Advent of Jesus Christ (10 lessons) 
    • Footsteps to Calvary (8 lessons) 
    • A Brief Study of the Psalms (10 lessons) 
    • Tabernacle Types and Teachings (13 lessons) 
    • The Priesthood Old & New (5 lessons) 

Bible study isn't the only service we provide to people who are incarcerated.

Parenting classes, decision-making courses, music theory, Celebrate Recovery meetings, and the annual Salvation Army Toy Lift during the holidays are available at a number of corrections facilities across the country.

One especially transformative program is our Creative Arts in Prison initiative. Watch this powerful video to see how life-changing this program can be for real people serving time. 

Help The Salvation Army help your fellow community members rebuild their lives after incarceration

Donate now 

Our Work Is Not Done Once the Prison Sentence Is Complete

Fortified with a spiritual foundation, Johnathan knew where to go when released from prison: to a Salvation Army church. There, he was provided with a place to stay and employment. He ultimately completed training and was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in the Western Territory in 2021

Rehabilitation and Reentry 

The future didn't look bright for Micky when he started using drugs beginning at the young age of 6. By age 33, he ended up in prison serving a three-year sentence. Micky had high hopes for changing his life's course, anxious to reestablish a relationship with his kids and stay out of trouble once he got out. But upon release, Micky was lost, without a job or a place to go. 

Micky's story is not unique. That's why The Salvation Army's Corrections and Reentry Services don't stop once someone is released from prison. In fact, that's where our resources can play the most critical role in helping to prevent people from having multiple encounters with the criminal justice system.  

Additionally, our Pathway Forward program is available at a number of locations across the country. The program is dedicated to helping curb recidivism by treating its causes holistically. Pathway Forward provides transitional housing and services for formerly incarcerated people referred by the Federal Bureau of Prisons under contract with the U.S. Department of Justice. But it's more than just room and board. 

Residents in the Pathway Forward program develop coping life-skills strategies, reconnect with family members, find assistance to secure jobs, receive help to obtain housing, and access other community resources. 

The following services are included in the Pathway Forward program: 

  • Resident Advisor/Counselor Support — Each client works with a resident advisor to develop a program to address needs and goals and a pathway to success. 
  • Counseling & Guidance — Professional counselors work with residents to resolve problems and assist in family reconciliation. Family counseling and spiritual development are also available. 
  • Substance Use Disorder & Mental Health Support — Some residents participate in substance use disorder education and treatment conducted by certified therapists. Others receive help addressing mental health concerns. Assessments and individual and group counseling are provided as part of this program. 
  • Restorative Justice & Life Skills — Clients participate in programming that combines personal life skills training and specially planned efforts to reconcile with family and the community. Services support personal adjustment, family reunification, meaningful employment, and increased financial stability. 
  • Academic & Employment Skills — The Salvation Army provides educational opportunities for residents, including computer skills, GED classes, English as a Second Language classes, and access to local colleges, universities, and trade skills. 
  • Employment Readiness Training — All clients are expected to be employed or seeking employment within 21 days of arrival unless enrolled in a training program. The Salvation Army provides assistance in resume preparation and job searches. Residents also attend workshops focusing on time management, interviewing skills, applying for employment, appropriate attire, job retention, and more. 

The Salvation Army is often the last hope for people leaving prison.

For Micky, it meant hope restored. With the help of our generous donors, he found employment, permanent housing, and, most importantly, reconnected with his kids. Watch Micky's story here. 

Help The Salvation Army help members of your community find hope after incarceration. 

Donate now