There are currently over 9,040 inmates serving time in Minnesota prisons, and 95 percent of these prisoners will, at some time, re-enter society. But statistics show that the prisoners that receive visitors while they are serving time can reduce the chance that they will commit another crime that sends them back to prison by almost 13 percent, reducing the need for future criminal defense.
According to research performed by the Department of Corrections, around 40 percent of inmates in Minnesota do not receive any visitors. A program called Amicus is hoping to change that statistic, and help prisoners gain the connection to the outside world that they feel is important to their eventual success upon release.
The non-profit organization has been operating for 45 years, and pairs Minnesota prisoners with volunteers that regularly visit them during their sentence. Some volunteers travel as much as 80 miles to visit their assigned inmate, and many prisoners claim that it really makes a difference in their lives.
Beyond visitation, Amicus also offers a variety of other services, such as monthly group sessions for men serving time. The sessions help prisoners deal with anxiety that surrounds the idea that prison is their new world. It also helps with feelings of becoming institutionalized, or feeling like they cannot reconnect with society. Amicus also offers release programs that help recently released prisoners find jobs, housing, and vital social services.
The goal of this volunteer program is to prevent returns to prison, not just as a service to inmates, but to help prevent further crime in the state of Minnesota.
Source: MPRnews, “States visitation program works to reduce inmate recidivism,” Sasha Aslanian, Oct. 3, 2011