Footsteps 104 - Prisons

Footsteps 104 features practical tips for getting involved in prison ministry and caring for ex-offenders.

Editor's note

Zoe Murton

I grew up on an island just off the south coast of England, which was famous for having two maximum-security prisons. As a child, the high prison walls held a mixture of fascination and horror for me. I remember travelling past them and wondering what life could be like for those inside.

For some of us, what happens in prisons is a mystery – but it need not be. Many of you will already be working in prisons, but for others, this edition may offer an opportunity to take a glimpse over the prison walls.

There are many ways of supporting prisoners and ex-offenders, showing God’s heart of compassion and welcome to people who – like us! – desperately need him. In this edition, prison chaplain Matt Boyes shares tips for getting involved in prison visiting. We explore what makes a fair trial, and what to do if fair trials are not happening in your country. Prison Fellowship Singapore discusses ways to support the families of prisoners, while Red Viva Honduras shares its experience of using football to help young people avoid crime.

In preparing this edition, it has been such a blessing to partner with Prison Fellowship International, the world’s largest prison ministry organisation. Your local branch of Prison Fellowship is a great place to start if you feel called to work in prison ministry.

PS I need your help to make sure Footsteps is doing its job! Some years ago, we had a group of readers who provided feedback by email on every edition of Footsteps. I am eager to restart this group. If you would like to be part of it, please email me on and tell me a little about yourself. Thank you!

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Footsteps articles

Many prisoners need to learn ways of making a living after their release. Photo: Prison Fellowship Cambodia

A fresh start on the outside

Prison Fellowship Cambodia shares ideas for helping prisoners rejoin society after their release.

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Bible study: A family for ex-offenders

Pastor Joel Rosales Matute from Honduras explores how the church can welcome and support ex-offenders.

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Cally Magalhães and her team are bringing transformation to São Paulo’s youth prisons. Photo: Jenny Barthow/Tearfund

Breaking the chains for young offenders

Cally Magalhães’ creative approach is transforming the lives of young offenders in Brazil.

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Caring for prisoners’ families

When someone goes to prison, the whole family suffers. How can we best support prisoners’ spouses, parents and children?

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Children’s zone: Forgiving others

A page of fun activities for children, to download and share (PDF).

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News, views and a ‘knotty problem’.

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Creating healthier prisons

Examples from Zambia of how to communicate health messages engagingly in prisons.

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Crime prevention in Honduras

The story of a church in Honduras that dramatically reduced the violence in its community.

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Good news behind bars

Several courses have been designed to offer prisoners the opportunity to explore the Christian message while in prison.

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Thanks to prison law student Susan Kigula, hundreds of prisoners were released from death row. Photo: African Prisons Project

Interview: Transforming Africa’s prisons

Alexander McLean, founder of African Prisons Project, shares the incredible results of supporting prisoners to study law.

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Introducing… Tearfund Learn

Introduce your friends to Tearfund Learn with this colourful poster to download and share (PDF).

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Having someone non-judgemental to talk to can be very healing. Illustration from Petra Röhr-Rouendaal, Where there is no artist (second edition)

Prison visiting for beginners

Prison chaplain Matt Boyes shares his top tips for getting involved in prison visiting.

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Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel


A selection of books, websites and training material about prisons and justice.

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Ripples of hope in a wave of crime

Crime and imprisonment devastates individuals, families and communities. But many prison ministry groups are offering effective solutions...

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Top tips for prison advocacy

Eight helpful tips for anyone who wants to advocate for positive change in the prison system.

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What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is different from traditional criminal justice in three important ways...

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What makes a fair trial?

What are the key elements of fair trials, and what can you do if these are not happening in your country?

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