Several courses have been designed to offer prisoners the opportunity to explore the Christian message while in prison. These courses allow prisoners to reflect on their lives and choices together in an understanding environment. For many prisoners, beginning a journey of faith enables them to experience forgiveness and make a fresh start.
One study showed that the reoffending rate dropped from 58 per cent to 17 per cent for short-term prisoners who completed the Alpha course and signed up for help from Alpha’s partner charity, Caring for Ex-Offenders.
Alpha for prisons
The Alpha course is currently running in more than 800 prisons in 55 countries. It is also frequently used with people outside prison.
The course is run by local volunteers trained by national Alpha offices. It is made up of ten sessions that cover the main aspects of the Christian faith. Topics include ‘Why did Jesus die?’, ‘Why and how should I pray?’ and ‘How can I resist evil?’
Each session includes a talk on the week’s topic, which can be delivered in person or watched on video. After this, participants share their thoughts in a discussion session.
The Prisoner’s Journey®
The Prisoner’s Journey® allows prisoners to explore Christianity using the gospel of Mark. The course is run by Christian volunteers, who first receive training from their local Prison Fellowship branch. Over a period of eight weeks, the participants learn about who Jesus is, why he came and what difference he can make in people’s lives. Each week, the prisoners take part in group discussions facilitated by the volunteers.
After prisoners finish the course, the volunteers invite them to enrol on a choice of discipleship programmes.
Materials for both courses are available in a range of languages.