Prison Fellowship was founded by Charles Colson, former chief counsel to President Nixon. In 1974, as a result of the Watergate inquiry, Colson pled guilty to obstruction of justice, and entered Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Alabama, where he served seven months in prison. During that time, Colson saw and experienced the difference faith in Jesus makes in people’s lives. He became convinced that the real solution to crime is found through spiritual renewal.
When Colson walked into freedom, he had a new mission in life: To reach out to men and women behind bars, and give them the opportunity to turn their lives around through Christ.
Colson founded Prison Fellowship in the U.S. in 1976, and expanded internationally three years later. Today, Prison Fellowship International works in 120 countries around the world, and is the largest association of national Christian ministries working within the criminal justice field.
In 1983, Prison Fellowship International received special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
We are the largest, most extensive association of national Christian ministries working within the criminal justice field. We engage 1,000 full-time staff and board members, and train, equip, and mobilise 45,000 volunteers in 120 countries and territories.
Prison Fellowship: in Australia
In 1979 a group of Christian men from several Australian States arranged for the founder of Prison Fellowship, Charles “Chuck” Colson, to come to Australia for the premiere of his film, “Born Again”. While he was here, Chuck spoke to several large assemblies and some smaller groups, and out of these came the motivation to start Prison Fellowship in Australia.
A national working group was formed, and by 1981 Australia became just the third chartered member of Prison Fellowship International. We are now a strong national organisation with a presence in every State and Territory, enjoying productive partnerships with each State-based Correctional Department and running programs both inside and outside correctional centres.
Across Australia there are over 1000 volunteer men and women visiting prisoners, running programs in prisons, organising camps and providing Christmas presents for prisoners’ children, supporting ex- prisoners when they are released, playing sports, running in-prison Bible studies, and providing many other services.
We rely on donations from individuals and churches for the majority of our financial needs and we are constantly humbled by our partnership with those who support this work.
In all we do, we seek to bring a message of hope and change for prisoners, ex-offenders and their families.