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One in every 100 Americans is behind bars. And their spouses, children, parents and other relatives are likely sitting in our church pews.

Is Jesus calling you to minister to them? Matthew 25 provides a clear mandate, which we need to obey. Perhaps your church needs to start a prison ministry, or maybe your church needs to open its doors to a support group for returning citizens. Maybe your church can provide job training or simply provide business suits and other professional attire that returning citizens can wear to job interviews. You and your church can participate in a variety of ways.

Wherever God leads you and your church to serve in this ministry, we want to help you to find the tools and resources that will guide you on the journey. We want to help you become a “station of hope” for our brothers and sisters who need care and support. We want to help you to serve the least of these .


American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has historically been involved in issues of biblical justice. On Aug. 5, 2008, ABHMS’ executive director, the Rev. Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, signed a resolution, along with the Rev. Dr. James Perkins, then-chair of the Commission of Social Justice of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Through the signing, ABHMS reaffirms its commitment to be the prophetic voice for the voiceless, advocates for the least of these , and leaders in addressing social and criminal justice issues that impact persons of all races.


Returning citizen
Returning citizen replaces the words ex-con and ex-offender. The emphasis is on what one is rather than what one was. Returning citizen also emphasizes that the civil rights of those who have paid their debt to society should be recognized and that society must work to change laws that, for example, restrict voting rights or deny job opportunities to returning citizens.
Healing community
The term prisoner re-entry reflects the simple fact that most inmates do return to society. A healing community goes further. It presses for reintegration in a desire to see relationships restored among men and women returning from incarceration, their families, communities, the larger society and, when possible, the victims of their criminal behavior.
Station of hope
A “station of hope” is a church that serves as a healing and teaching refuge, offering a renewed vision for returning citizens, their families and communities.

Reality is

One in 100 adults in America is behind bars.

One in 31 adults in America is under correctional control.


The reality of incarceration is not only painful and devastating, but also closer to us than we would like to admit. By the end of 2009, more than 1.6 million people were reported to be behind bars, either in state or federal prisons.

Prison population in the United States by the end of 2009: 1,613,656
Parents of minors: 809,800
Almost 11/2 million minors have a parent in prison.

More than 7.3 million individuals in the United States are either on probation or parole or in jail or prison.

Probation 4,293,163
Parole 824,365
Prison 1,512,576
Jail 780,581

This means that one in every 31 adults is under correctional control in the United States.
Total U.S. adult population: 232,403,959
Correctional population: 7,410,685

The prison system is the fastest growing industry in America. The system is also facing financial crisis and, therefore, opting for early releases at an extremely growing rate. Are our communities prepared for this huge influx of returning citizens? Are our churches ready to open their doors and welcome individuals that deserve a second chance? Are we prepared to deal with the conflicts caused by having victims and perpetrators entering to the same place of worship?


Our Prisoner Reentry National Network is comprised of 20 members, prison chaplains, local pastors, leaders of reentry organizations, and lay leaders in different parts of the country. They are equipped ministers with a passion for reentry and willing to help you. As members of this team, they can provide you with resources in your area. For a listing of the members, please contact Rev. Fela Barrueto.


Related Stories

All Mission is Local: American Baptist Leader Reflects on ABHMS Urging to Visit the Incarcerated

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Former U.S. House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill immortalized the saying “All politics is local.” He first used it in 1935, when he entered politics as a candidate for the Massachusetts State House of Representatives, never losing another race. In the year of his death, 1994, reflections on his career were published in the book “All Politics Is Local and Other Rules of the Game (ref. 1).” The point of the saying was to convey a now arcane message that an elected official is effective only to the degree that he or she represents local constituents.....Click here for the full story.

ABHMS guides Cleveland Baptist Association in customizing prisoner re-entry publication

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The reality of incarceration knocks on the doors of every local church, and one volunteer group is ensuring that churches in Cleveland, Ohio, are prepared to answer.

With guidance from American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), members of the Cleveland Baptist Association (CBA) collaborated to customize a publication that had originally been created by the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) Commission on Social Justice and Prison Ministry with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to help churches that ....Click here for the full story.

Contact Us

Fela Barrueto
Read Fela's bio
National Coordinator, Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry
Telephone: 800-ABC-3USA, x2493
FAX: 610-768-2470

Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851

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