Prison Fellowship International

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Prison Fellowship International
FounderCharles W. Colson
FocusBiblical studies in prison, rehabilitation, child sponsorship
Area served
117 countries
Key people
President and CEO: Andy Corley

Prison Fellowship International (PFI) is a christian international non-governmental organisation (NGO) of national prison fellowship (PF) organizations from 117 countries. The headquarters is in Washington D.C., United States. The president is Andy Corley.


Charles W. Colson, a former politician jailed for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, became a Christian in 1973, while incarcerated for seven months.[1] In 1976, he founded Prison Fellowship USA, a Christian organization that aims to support prisoners.[2] In November 1978, a meeting was held in Great Britain for the formation of a British antenna and to give an international dimension to the organization.[3] Prison Fellowship International is officially founded in 1979.[4] In 2012, the NGO works in 110 countries.[5] In 2018, the NGO works in 117 countries.[6]


Bible studies[edit]

For prisoners, groups of Bible studies are offered.[7]

Assisting children and families of prisoners[edit]

Prison Fellowship International runs a child sponsorship program which aims to help needy children of prisoners with support in education and health care.[8]

The Angel Tree Program is an outreach to the children of prisoners at Christmas. Members of local churches volunteer to sponsor these children by purchasing a gift based on information gathered by PF volunteers and prison chaplains.[9]

Restorative justice[edit]

Through the PFI Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, PFI seeks to promote the principles and practices of restorative justice—an approach to justice focusing on healing broken relationships, repairing the damage done by crime, and restoring the offender to a meaningful role in society.[10]

The Centre operates Restorative Justice Online and provides information and consultation to national PF organizations,[11] governments,[12] the United Nations,[13] and other organizations.

The PF restorative justice program is known as either the Sycamore Tree Project[14] or Umuvumu Tree Project.[15] Notably, in Rwanda, in response to the genocide of 1994, Prison Fellowship introduced the Umuvumu Tree Project through 11,000 traditional courts, resulting in more than 32,000 genocide offenders confessing to their crimes.[15] 23 PF national ministries ran the STP in 2009.

Promoting faith-based prisons[edit]

Based on APAC, the Brazilian model of faith-based prison communities, national PF organizations are adapting their own APAC projects. These faith-based prison communities are presently operating in 16 countries.[16]


As an NGO, PFI maintains Consultative Status (Category II) with the UN Economic and Social Council[13] and is an active participant in the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Telegraph, Charles Colson,, UK, April 22, 2012
  2. ^ Gregg Barak, Battleground: Criminal Justice [2 volumes], ABC-CLIO, USA, 2007, p. 279
  3. ^ John Perry, God Behind Bars: The Amazing Story of Prison Fellowship, Thomas Nelson Inc, USA, 2006, p. 150
  4. ^ OLIVER KENDRICK, The Origin and Development of Prison Fellowship International: Pluralism, Ecumenism and American Leadership in the Evangelical World 1974–2006, Journal of American Studies, Volume 51, Number 4, 2017, UK, p. 1224
  5. ^ Tobias Brandner, Beyond the Walls of Separation: Christian Faith and Ministry in Prison, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2013, p. 105
  6. ^ Prison Fellowship International, WHERE WE WORK,, USA, Retrieved July 23, 2018
  7. ^ Prison Fellowship International, SPREADING THE GOSPEL,, USA, Retrieved July 23, 2018
  8. ^ Prison Fellowship International, RESCUING CHILDREN,, USA, Retrieved July 23, 2018
  9. ^ The Post & Courier Angel Tree program helps give Christmas to children of inmates 26 December 2008
  10. ^ Prison Fellowship International, RESTORING JUSTICE,, USA, Retrieved July 23, 2018
  11. ^ PFI Website - The Mission of Prison Fellowship International Archived 26 April 2003 at
  12. ^ Jamaican Ministry of Justice - Press Release 9 December 2005 Archived 14 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b "United Nations Website - Description of Prison Fellowship International's ECOSOC Status". Archived from the original on 15 December 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  14. ^ New Zealand Ministry of Justice - Newsletter - Te Ara Whakatika, Winter 2004, Issue #22
  15. ^ a b Umuvumu Tree Project: A Ministry of Reconciliation in Rwanda USA, February 3, 2003
  16. ^ Correctional News A Matter of Choice July/Aug 2003[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice - Description of Prison Fellowship International's membership to the aforementioned organisation[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]