Trying to stay out of prison

A fine piece of reporting by MPR colleague Rupa Shenoy shows how having a friend helps people in prison stay out of prison.


Nearly everyone behind bars is eventually released but recidivism or re-offending rates remain stubbornly high.

Rupa profiles a faith-based effort inside the women’s prison at Shakopee and at a men’s prison in Lino Lakes.

The key to the program’s success? Probably several, but this piece of Rupa’s reporting leapt out at me:

“The volunteers provide emotional support and help inmates leaving prison find housing and jobs — two obstacles that, unless overcome, can end up sending other offenders back to prison.”


Think about it. You’re out of prison. You may have family ready to help you. But if not your chances of finding housing and a job with a prison record are not rosy.

There are lots of folks involved in mentoring prison inmates, but the numbers fall far short of the need.

The Council on Crime and Justice based in Minneapolis led by former Hennepin County judge Pamela Alexander issued this invitation for mentors recently:

“All volunteers will mentor men returning from prison in group mentoring sessions that occur at the Community Reentry Hub located at 125 West Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis. Group mentoring sessions meet once a week for approximately 90 minutes per week. ” The Council puts the time commitment at about four to six hours a month.

One of the state’s longest running prisoner befriending groups is Minneapolis-based Amicus , again with an extensive prisoner help program always in need of volunteers.

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