Jail and Prison Ministry

The cross of Christ and the cross of the repentant criminal are side by side.

FOCUS of the Ministry

Snohomish County Jail Ministry focuses primarily on a spiritual approach with inmates who want to understand and strengthen their relationship with God. As one of them wrote, “Prisoners need God and the love of Jesus and Mary as much or even more than the population as a whole.”

Inmates who deepen their faith and grow in understanding of scripture will become less likely to offend others when they are released. For this reason, the Ministry provides bible and faith study materials, a prayer book for inmates, and free Catholic bibles. As Jesus taught us: “What you have received freely, give freely” Matthew 10:8. Many of our volunteers provide weekly Bible Study Groups for prisoners at the County Jail.

We provide weekly Masses at the Snohomish County Jail for the men and women on Saturdays. We provide ecumenical services at the Work Release Program on Sundays. We also provide ecumenical services at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center on Saturday afternoons.

The Ministry provides support to prisoners who have served their time and are now Re-Entering society. We provide Mentors for ongoing support. We also provide assistance in seeking housing and in finding employment.

The Ministry also supports victims of crime by creating an awareness of their needs in the community. It does this in various ways: by providing literature about victims’ needs and resources for their care, special prayer services for victims in which they can find support from the faith community and mutual encouragement from their fellow victims. Victims can lead the way in showing us how to be there for them.

MISSION of the Ministry

Our mission is to renew and strengthen the faith of the imprisoned by providing them with services that help them spiritually, mentally and physically.

We take on this mission because the criminal on Calvary requested,”Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom,” and Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23: 42-43.

barbed wireThe Catholic Church shares this mission because inmates, although confined, belong to the Body of Christ – “I was in prison and you visited me”Matthew 25:36.

We support restorative justice efforts for all who suffer the effects of crime: the victims and their loved ones, as well as prisoners, those released from prison, and the entire community.

“The Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to the afflicted” Isaiah 49:13.

The Ministry provides the means to achieve these goals free of charge in response to the words of Christ, “What you have received freely, give freely”Matthew 10:8.

Ministry GOAL

Our goal is to reach inmates with our Catholic scripture, faith and prayer resources.

Despite where they are, inmates are still members of Christ’s Body and should not be forgotten. As one inmate said, “We are not animals.” Many will use their time behind bars to reassess their lives, and with God’s help, make amends for the way that they have victimized others. As fellow Catholics, we can walk with them to support their spiritual transformation.

This spiritual approach goes to the very heart of the matter – the need for God in the lives of all who have been affected by crime. In the end, the only true healing is spiritual, as God transforms suffering into victory as He did for Jesus.

Is Prison/Jail Ministry for You?

Where do you start?

Many time individuals are interested in getting involved but they have no idea where to start, so we’ve set up some simple steps for you to follow to begin the process of deciding if prison ministry is for you. The steps are labeled,
Pray… Learn… Act…


Prison Ministry is the concern of the entire Catholic faith community. As Catholics we are called to act.

Prayerfully reflect on the scripture, “I was in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:36). Prison walls do not change the fact that we are all members of Christ, whether we are locked up or free. Inmates should not be forgotten or regarded as beyond hope. As one inmate said, “We are not animals.”

Take some time to thoughtfully and prayerfully reflect on scripture, Luke 23: 39-43 and Matthew 25: 31-46, to help while you discern and discover if prison ministry is right for you.


If you feel called to this ministry, it is important to proceed carefully and prayerfully.
1. Read and study the statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States on Criminal Justice, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration.
2. Research other prison outreach organizations.
3. See the Resource section of Dismas Industry
4. Contact Fr Jay DeFolco at defolco@aol.com
5. Ask how to get training and where to serve.
6. We provide training and ongoing support

1. Pray for victims and their families; reach out to them and form a support group.
2. Pray for the families of inmates; reach out to them and form a
support group. 3. Pray for those who work in our Prisons and Jails.
4. Help support this Ministry’s with a donation.
5. Join our Union of Prayer. Not everyone in the faith community is able to become directly involved in prison ministry. We believe that without the prayers of others to support our work, this spiritual outreach to inmates cannot be successful, for nothing truly lasting is accomplished without prayer, which is our connection to God.

Some Ideas…

Become involved indirectly:
• Write to an inmate in a general prison or on death row
• Volunteer at a local prison ministry to help with office tasks, bookkeeping, letter-writing, etc.

Become involved directly:
• Visit inmates in a local jail or prison
• Reach out to victims and their families
• Reach out to the families of inmates who have “a sentence of their own” because of their shame, loss and grief.


By their presence volunteers are signs that God and the faith community have not forgotten inmates. This is important because otherwise inmates are out of sight of the civic and faith communities. Prison ministry volunteers can serve as links between inmates and people in community.

Through their reports and stories they give a face to inmates. They encourage others to pray for inmates and support their needs. Prison ministry volunteers also can recruit others to help in this unique ministry. Since volunteers have experience reaching out to inmates, they also can help with training new volunteers.

Resources You can Use

Victim Resources

National Center for Victims of Crime, 1(800) 384-2255

National Organization for Victim
Assistance, 1 (800) 879-6682

Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center US Dept. of Justice,
1 (800) 627-6872

National Child Abuse Hotline,
1 (800) 222-4453

Mothers Against Drunk Driving,
1 (800) 787-3224

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network,
1 (800) 656-4673

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children,
1 (800) 826-7653

National Children’s Alliance,
1 (800) 239/9950

Restorative Justice Resources

Restorative Justice
Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants

Prison Ministry Resources

American Catholic Correctional Chaplains
Prison Fellowship
Kairos Prison Ministries of Wisconsin
Kairos Prison Ministries
Kairos Prison Ministry International
Broken Yolk Ministry and the Grace Place
Paulist Prison Ministry

Family Resources

Families of the Incarcerated

Correction Resources

Office of Justice Programs
Federal Bureau of Prisons

Reentry Programs

National reentry Resource Center
Ex Offender Reentry
Justice Fellowship
Broken Yolk and Grace Place

National Victim Resources

Vine Link

Death Penalty Resources

Catholics Against Capital Punishment
National coalition to abolish the death penalty

Related Catholic Resources

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Catholic City
Justice for Immigrants